Philippines: Reigning In The Rogues

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March 1, 2012:  MILF leaders now believe that the peace talks are stalled. The main problem is that Christian leaders from the south oppose Moslem autonomy demands in the south. The MILF still feels entitled to more power than southern Christians (who are the majority in many parts of the "Moslem south").

Despite the stalled peace talks there has been less MILF violence in the south. There were 11 armed clashes with MILF gunmen last year, compared to 14 the year before. But there has been a lot more crime associated with MILF members and the MILF leaders have apologized and stressed that they are taking steps to contain these rogue members.

MILF suspended three of their commanders for three months for taking part in a violation of the 2004 truce last October. That incident left 19 soldiers and five rebels dead. Four army officers were also punished for disobeying orders and entering MILF territory. This incident, on Basilan island, has been a sore point with the government.

February 28, 2012: In the capital, three policemen were accused of participating in the kidnapping of the wife of a wealthy shopping mall owner. A civilian was also arrested as part of the gang. Police have long been suspected of participating in organized crime, especially kidnapping.

February 25, 2012: In the north (Bicol peninsula) troops cornered an NPA commander and some of his followers and killed him in a gun battle. The other NPA fighters fled. Three of the NPA leader's children were with him and two of them were also killed.

February 23, 2012: In the south (Zamboanga del Sur province) a battle between rival clans left ten dead.

February 22, 2012: On Basilan island police captured wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Abdulpattah Ismael. The prisoner was responsible for an ambush five years ago on Basilan in which 14 marines were killed and ten of them beheaded.

February 19, 2012: In the south (North Cotabato province) an attack on a prison by fifty armed men was repulsed. With three dead and 14 wounded civilians. The raid was apparently seeking to release a MILF member. Prison wardens in the south have long urged that prominent MILF and Abu Sayyaf prisoners all be transferred to prisons in the north, where it is harder for the Islamic groups to organize breakout attacks.

 

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