Philippines: The Americans Return Again

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June 23, 2012: The government has halted the search for Jordanian TV journalist Baker Abdullah Atyani and his two man film crew (locally hired Filipinos) on Jolo island. Atyani appears to be on friendly terms with Abu Sayyaf and police now want to interrogate Atyani about that.

June 19, 2012: The government is buying twelve South Korean TA-50 armed trainers for the air force. These advanced jet trainers are built to also serve as fighters or ground attack aircraft. Eight years ago the air force removed from service its last eight operational F-5 fighters. These 1960s era aircraft were not much of a match for more recent warplanes and were expensive to maintain. In the meantime, the air force has been using armed trainer aircraft for strikes against Moslem and communist rebels.

June 18, 2012: In the central Philippines (Panay Island) police captured a regional NPA base, capturing weapons and computers.

June 17, 2012: In the south police cornered wanted kidnapper Wahid Pingli and killed him. Pingli was a member of MILF who had gone rogue and formed a kidnapping gang.

The government ordered two patrol boats stationed at Scarborough Shoal to withdraw. Last week China had withdrawn its patrol ships. The shoal is only 250 kilometers from the Philippines and 1,200 kilometers from China. But China claims ownership of Scarborough Shoal but has not yet used force to assert that claim. The Filipino boats may return, after a large storm forecast for the area passes.

June 12, 2012: A Jordanian TV reporter (Baker Abdullah Atyani) and two Filipino assistants disappeared on Jolo islands. At first it was believed he had been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, but later it appeared that the Jordanian had developed a relationship with the Islamic terrorists.

June 9, 2012:  Fourteen senior police commanders, including four generals, were fired for corruption. All had been caught participating in a scam involving overpaying for second hand helicopters that were declared to be new.

June 8, 2012: NPA admitted that it was their gunmen who had recently raided and damaged the facilities of a mining operation in the south (Mindanao). The NPA is trying to force the Canadian mining company to pay "revolutionary taxes" but the Filipino government forbids that sort of thing and has been unsuccessful in preventing the NPA retaliation attacks. If the NPA cannot be kept away, the mining operation will shut down and foreign investors will be discouraged from setting up facilities in any area containing NPA units.

June 7, 2012: The U.S. has agreed to help the Philippines patrol the offshore waters that China also claims. The exact nature of this assistance has not yet been determined. The Philippines wants additional ships, aircraft, and surveillance gear (like coastal radars) as well as the presence of American warships. The new arrangement will include U.S. resuming use of their old base facilities at Subic Bay and Clark Field.

 

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