Filipino defense officials are meeting with their Japanese and American counterparts to plan coordinated action against growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and adjacent waters. The Chinese claim just about every uninhabited islet and reef in the region, despite older and more substantial claims by nations that are closer to the disputed areas. Chinese pressure comes mainly in the form of intimidation by their growing fleet of warships and patrol boats. Actual force (usually bumping into “trespassing” fishing boats or other commercial ships) is usually done by Chinese non-military ships, under orders from nearby Chinese warships or warplanes. New tactics and procedures have to be worked out to counter these Chinese methods.
Peace negotiations with MILF grind on. The delays are largely the result of MILF demanding territory and power (especially over non-Christians) that the majority of Filipinos (only eight percent are Moslem) will not go along with. The MILF knows this but expectations are high in the south and MILF wants to get credit for at least trying hard to get what the majority of Filipinos will never give up.
June 17, 2013: In the south (Davao del Norte province) five unarmed soldiers were kidnapped by NPA rebels. The soldiers were on their way to a local market to buy food when they encountered a phony checkpoint manned by NPA gunmen wearing army uniforms.
June 14, 2013: A general, who had retired in 1994, was ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution to the government, after being convicted of corruption while he was in service. The general had refused to pay so a judge ordered properties seized and sold until the full amount was paid. This general has been investigated and prosecuted for over a decade. Corrupt officers are often able to litigate their way out of trouble, but that is becoming more difficult because the anti-corruption prosecutors and courts are more determined and less corrupt these days.
June 8, 2013: MILF is protesting the arrest of four of its members in the south (provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and Lanao del Norte). This is part of the preliminary peace deals already signed, which prohibits arrests unless there is good cause. The four were picked up on warrants for past crimes and MILF is seeking to increase its popularity by using the deals signed so far act as a “get out jail” card for MILF members. The government is fighting this, even though people in the south are growing impatient about how long the peace negotiations are taking.
June 6, 2013: A former police colonel was sentenced (after a trial lasting a year) to 15-20 years in prison for providing years of protection for a methamphetamine lab.