Philippines: Creaky Coalition Against China


November 1, 2013: The government is looking to the United States for help in resisting Chinese efforts to take control of offshore areas that are, according to international law, Filipino. So far the U.S. will not commit to stepping in. Meanwhile, the Philippines has become involved in more cooperation with neighbors against the growing Chinese aggression at sea. China is determined to seize control of large offshore areas belonging to the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. All of these Chinese victims are strengthening military alliances with each other and the United States to better deal with the Chinese tactics of gradual but persistent pressure. But without a firm commitment from the United States, this alliance is likely to fail.

Soldiers and police continue cleaning up after the September 9th MNLF attack on the southern port city of Zamboanga. Two of the four neighborhoods where the fighting took place have been cleared of unexploded ammunition and booby traps. Troops are now clearing the other two areas. Rebellion charges were filed against 65 MNLF survivors of the fighting there. The government believes it will take until early next year for things to get back to normal in the neighborhoods where the MNLF fighting took place. Over 100,000 people fled their homes and many returned to find a lot of damage. The three weeks of fighting led to 190 MNLF gunmen being killed while another 292 surrendered or were arrested. Security forces lost 23 soldiers and policemen killed, along with 12 civilians. Another 180 soldiers and police were wounded, along with over a hundred civilians.

October 30, 2013: The air force has ordered eight Anglo-Italian AW109 helicopters. The navy ordered three AW109s for its larger warships last March. The AW109 is a three ton helicopter that is also manufactured under license by China.

October 26, 2013: In the south (Agusan del Sur province) NPA rebels attacked an army base and killed 5 soldiers.

October 24, 2013: In the south (Agusan del Sur province) NPA rebels kidnapped 6 civilians (including 5 candidates in upcoming local elections) and demanded that the army withdraw from the area and the local self-defense (against the NPA) militia be disbanded. These demands were refused and the captives were released the next day.  Elsewhere in the south (Maguindanao province), two MILF factions fought over political differences, leaving at least 4 dead. Peace talks with the MILF continue, and the government believes a peace deal will be agreed to before 2016. Peace between various MILF factions will take a bit longer.

October 23, 2013: The head of the national police dismissed 6 local police chiefs for greatly (by up to 75 percent) under reporting crime in their jurisdictions. Nine police commanders were punished for this last month and 13 just last week. This is all part of a major effort to clean up corruption in the police.

October 21, 2013: In the south (Mindanao) 9 soldiers were killed in two clashes with NPA rebels.

October 20, 2013: The southern clan leader (Raja Kiram) of the disastrous “invasion” of Malaysia last February died of natural causes in the Philippines. That “invasion” was put down back in June, when Malaysia officially ended its military operations against the Filipino invaders in Sabah. Malaysian police appear to have eliminated (killed, captured, driven out, or driven underground) all the Filipino Moslems associated with Raja Kiram. He openly invaded the Malaysian province of Sabah in February and sought to take control of Sabah because of an old claim his family had on the area. Most of the invasion force (several hundred armed men) was destroyed in March. The fighting resulted in over 80 dead (nearly all of them Filipinos). After that Malaysia went after what police believed were at least a hundred of the armed Kiram followers still in the area. All of these now appear to be accounted for and 23 have been charged with murder and terrorism. Meanwhile, over 5,000 Filipino civilians (most of them apparently working in Sabah illegally) fled Sabah, many of them returning to the Philippines. Filipinos continue to flee Sabah as the Malaysian government is no longer tolerating Filipinos living illegally in Sabah.

October 18, 2013: The government signed the agreement to buy 12 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. In 2005, the air force removed from service its last 8 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. South Korea agreed to deliver the TA-50s as quickly as possible. 




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