Philippines: Not Our Fault, Go Away

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November 4, 2011: The government has warned MILF leaders that if outlaw MILF groups (like BILF) are not stopped from launching more attacks in the south, the army and police will go in and take control of the situation (and remote bits of territory MILF claims as its own.) If this leads to more clashes with MILF gunmen, so be it. But either MILF deals with its outlaws or the government will.  MILF does not punish these unruly factions, because to do so could trigger a civil war within the Islamic separatist organization. This would be more destructive to MILF than a large scale army offensive. So far, president Aquino has resisted calls for a major offensive against MILF, but this is becoming more difficult with each MILF renegade group attacking Christians in the south.

November 3, 2011: Government and MILF negotiators met in Malaysia for scheduled talks, and the main topic of discussion was MILF violence last month that left over 40 soldiers, police and civilians dead. MILF believes the violence is a minor issue, and that the army shares some of the blame for sending patrols into MILF territory. The government disagrees, and is under increasing public pressure to resume large-scale operations against MILF. The Moslem separatists are divided over how to end the decades of fighting. The basic fact is that the four million Moslems in the big island in the south (Mindanao) were now outnumbered by Christians who had moved there in the last half century. The Christian Filipinos are better organized, more industrious and more economically successful. The Moslems believe they should run Mindanao even if they are the minority, because Mindanao is the local "Islamic homeland." While some in the government are willing to concede this, the Christian majority in Mindanao (and the rest of the Philippines) does not. MILF has about 10,000 armed members, but a quarter, or more, belong to factions that have turned into common criminals, or are more loyal to clan leaders than MILF.

October 30, 2011:  In the south (Mindanao) troops took possession of an MILF camp, and estimated that they had killed up to 30 of the Islamic rebels. The camp was used by MILF fighters who disobeyed MILF leadership and launched attacks on Christians in the south. The army had been advancing on the camp for nearly a week, fighting MILF gunmen all the way. Most of the residents of the camp (over a hundred gunmen) got away. But they lost much equipment, and their home. The week of fighting caused over 15,000 nearby civilians to flee their homes.

October 29, 2011:  A major military operation on Sulu captured an Abu Sayyaf camp. At least five Islamic terrorists were killed, but key leaders (Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir and Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail) got away, along with two other foreign terrorists and over twenty Abu Sayyaf gunmen. Hir has a $5 million price on its head (offered by the U.S.).

October 24, 2011: For the first time in three years, the air force carried out bombing attacks in the Moslem south. This was necessitated by growing MILF violence against the Christian majority in the south.

October 23, 2011: In several attacks, nine people were killed by MILF violence in the south.

October 22, 2011: MILF accused the army of attacking MILF positions in the south. But the army was going after the MILF renegade group BILF.

October 21, 2011: Two army colonels were dismissed from their jobs for errors made in an action a few days that left 19 soldiers dead on Basilan. Meanwhile, the army wants MILF to turn over the MILF men responsible for attacking the soldiers on Basilan. MILF refuses, insisting the army started the fight.

October 20, 2011: In the south, NPA rebels attacked a Japanese owned plantation and destroyed over half a million dollars' worth of equipment. Apparently the plantation owners would not submit to NPA extortion demands.

 

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