Philippines: Accidents On The Offensive


July 11, 2012:  The government thought it had a peace deal with China when, on June 15th, it ordered its patrol boats to withdraw from Scarborough Shoal. China followed by withdrawing its own patrol ships. But aerial reconnaissance has shown the Chinese patrol boats have returned in the last two weeks, along with Chinese fishing boats, which are now operating in waters the Philippines claims (according to international law). The shoal is only 250 kilometers from the Philippines and 1,200 kilometers from China. China claims ownership of Scarborough Shoal but has not yet used force to assert that claim. What China is apparently doing is sending patrol boats from their fishery protection service. China has about half a dozen maritime patrol forces. These include the navy and coast guard, plus others that deal with fishing, smuggling, shipping, and so on. According to China, they are in compliance with the June deal, as they never agreed that Chinese fishing boats could not operate around Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines is trying to enlist ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) or American help in confronting China over Scarborough Shoal. But so far neither the United States nor ASEAN is willing to get involved in a direct confrontation with China over the matter. The Philippines cannot stand up to China by itself but does not want to surrender its coastal waters to Chinese claims.

In the last three months two American nuclear subs have visited Subic Bay (due east of Scarborough Shoal). This has apparently not made much of an impression on the Chinese.

In the south Abu Sayyaf ambushed a group of rubber plantation workers, killing five, as well as a security guard. Another 22 workers were wounded. Abu Sayyaf had been demanding money from the rubber plantation owner and threatened violence if payments were not made. Islamic terrorists (Abu Sayyaf and MILF) and leftist rebels (NPA) have increasingly used this form of extortion to raise money. The government forbids making the payments because this makes the outlaw groups stronger and harder for the security forces to deal with.

Jordanian TV reporter Baker Abdullah Atyani and two Filipino technicians disappeared on Jolo islands on June 12th. At first it was believed they had been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, but later it appeared that the Jordanian had developed a relationship with the Islamic terrorists and was interviewing several of them. Since then the three men have remained with Abu Sayyaf, and the army says it knows where the three are. Everyone denies that the three are being held for ransom. Whichever way this goes, it is not your usual "missing journalist" case.

July 8, 2012: In the south a mining company delivered several hunting rifles to leftist rebels in order to obtain the release of three mine employees kidnapped on July 6th.

July 6, 2012: In two separate clashes on the outskirts of the capital, soldiers killed 13 NPA rebels. Several rebels were also captured and many weapons seized.

June 25, 2012: A missing Filipino fishing boat was found to have been sunk, after a collision with an unidentified boat. Four members of the lost boat were rescued, while the other five appear to have died. The Filipino boat was near Scarborough Shoal and the ship that hit the Filipino boat was believed to be Chinese. This is a common Chinese tactic, to have commercial ships collide with fishing or intelligence collecting ships that are in waters claimed by China. If the attacking boat is identified, the Chinese claim it was an accident.






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