Philippines: The Chinese Threat To Peace At Last

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July 23, 2013: The army revealed that it had killed over 300 NPA rebels so far this year and that the rebels were believed to only have about 4,000 armed men in action. This is down from 25,000 in the late 1980s. This group has been on the defensive ever since the Cold War ended in 1991, and many Filipinos lost their enthusiasm for communism. Last year NPA launched 374 attacks which left 53 civilians, 81 military personnel, 8 policemen, and 22 local defense militiamen dead. The NPA favors extorting cash or goods from businesses, calling it “revolutionary taxes.” The army leadership believes that they will have crushed the NPA by 2016, or at least before the armed struggle with NPA reaches the half-century mark in 2019. Thus, by the end of the decade the government expects to finally end over half a century of Moslem and communist violence. Meanwhile, Chinese claims on Filipino territory are growing more threatening and a formal military alliance with the United States is being negotiated.

Government investigators have traced the new AK-47 type rifles NPA rebels have been seen carrying lately, to smugglers using ore transport ships to bring in all manner of contraband. The ore ships load from ports in the south. The AK-47s have their serial numbers and other identifying marks defaced, making it difficult to determine where the newly made weapons came from. Many countries in East Asia manufacturer versions of the AK-47.

Despite the continuing problems with corruption and economic stagnation, a recent poll showed 74 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with democracy.  

July 22, 2013: In the south (North Cotabato province) MILF and MNLF gunmen fought several times over the weekend, leaving two MNLF men dead and one MILF gunman wounded. The fighting was really the result of a land dispute between local MILF and MNLF leaders. The MNLF (a Moslem separatist group that made peace with the government in the 1990s) has, for the most part, kept its part of the two decade old peace deal. Many MNLF members joined the police and army and others remained as part of local self-defense militias. Abu Sayyaf tried, with some success, to develop good relations with nearby MNLF groups, but that eventually went bad because the Islamic radicals increasingly acted like gangsters and relations between the two groups grew worse and worse. Some MNLF men sympathize with the more radical Abu Sayyaf and will sometimes cooperate with Abu Sayyaf, especially if paid. MILF tends to consider MNLF as traitors (for making peace) and that has often caused armed clashes in the past.

July 21, 2013: In the south (Lanao del Sur) fighting between two rival clan militias left ten dead and five wounded.

July 19, 2013: In the south (Agusan del Sur province) six NPA rebels were killed after 40 of them attacked some local defense militia. One of the militiamen were wounded while repelling the attack.

July 17, 2013: A 12 year old member of the NPA surrendered to police outside the capital (Quezon). The boy said he was recruited when he was nine. The NPA likes to recruit young kids as lookouts and spies and then arms them when they get older.

July 13, 2013: In the south (Basilan) Abu Sayyaf gunmen ambushed some soldiers and were driven off, losing one of their men. One M-16 rifle was recovered, along with several magazines of ammo.

Elsewhere in the south troops clashed with BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a renegade MILF group) gunmen, killing five. Two soldiers also died.

July 12, 2013: Peace talks with MILF, operating in overtime, reached an agreement on what percentage of local tax revenues go to the national government. The government originally wanted half but settled for 25 percent. 

 

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