Philippines: Talk Or Die

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January 20, 2011: The MILF has followed the lead of the NPA and asked for imprisoned leaders to be freed to help with peace talks. The government refused both requests. Too often in the past, such good will gestures backfired. The government believes that MILF and NPA are willing to negotiate because the alternative is eventual destruction out in the bush. MILF is weak and beset by factionalism and desertions. The NPA has been worn down by several years of army pressure, money shortages and an image that has shifted from revolutionary to bandit. MILF can still muster over 8,000 gunmen, but keeping them fighting on the same side for long would be difficult because of internal divisions. NPA has about half as many armed men, but they are dispersed throughout the country, in order to survive. The NPA has to steal (or extort) to survive, and that makes it impossible to assemble a large force in one place. Abu Sayyaf is a small group (a few hundred armed members on a few islands in the southwest), being pursued by ten times as many soldiers, marines and police. These guys are determined to fight to the last man (who has not already surrendered).

January 18, 2011: The army foiled an NPA plot to free one of their leaders (Tirso Alcantara), who was wounded and captured two weeks earlier. One of the three NPA men sent to do the job was captured. The NPA has been demanding that Tirso Alcantarais, and 24 other NPA leaders, be released to facilitate the peace talks. The government refuses to let these guys out of jail.

In the south, two soldiers were killed and eight wounded during a battles with NPA rebels.

January 14, 2011:  The government and the MILF rebels publicly agreed to resume peace talks, in Malaysia, in four weeks.

January 13, 2011: The NPA agreed to resume peace talks in Norway next month.  

January 10, 2011: On the southern island of Basilan, Abu Sayyaf   rebels killed five Christian businessmen.

January 8, 2011:  On the southern island of Basilan, troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf, killing two and capturing one.  In the last few days, six people (a soldier, a policeman and four rebels) were killed in three clashes with the NPA.

January 5, 2011: A member of the NPA leadership used to Christmas truce to negotiate his surrender (two days ago).

 

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