Philippines: Total Gangster


November 19, 2012: In the last two years police have reduced the number of “private armies” maintained by clans or politicians from 112 to 60. These “armies” range from a dozen or so armed men, to several hundred. Many are part-timers but all are men of mayhem willing to start a little war in their part of the world. These armed groups are particularly active during elections, to discourage opposing politicians and their supporters. This disarmament effort was instigated by the massacre of 57 political activists and journalists in November, 2009. It's all about guys with guns operating outside the law without police interference. This sort of thing is particularly common in the south. The largely Moslem south is awash in guns, as well as religious hatred. The 2009 massacre was a local dispute, and there are plenty more like it down there. There have long been lots of private armies maintained by politicians, major businessmen, and the heads of some clans. These are in addition to the MILF (which sometimes overlaps with the non-separatist private armies). There are more guys with guns in those private armies than there are police and soldiers in the south. The government keeps the peace by paying off the leaders of most of these pro-government militias. This is usually done with government money or jobs.

Speaking of private armies, MILF has begun training a Moslem police force in anticipation of the new autonomous Moslem Bangsamoro region in the south. Details of this peace deal have yet to be worked out and the new Bangsamoro police force won’t be taking over for several years.

Despite the constant pressure and attrition (losing 85 percent of their strength in the last 25 years) the remaining communist NPA rebels refuse to make a peace deal. As they shrank to about 4,000 gunmen the NPA went gangster and old-school communist. Some groups are more gangster than communist because its extortion, theft, and kidnapping that raises the cash to keep the group in business.

November 17, 2012: In the north (Isabela province) seven soldiers were killed when a foot patrol clashed with NPA gunmen. At least five of the rebels were killed.

October 28, 2012: In the south (Patikul) four marines and nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen died during several hours of fighting.




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