round of peace negotiations MILF and government negotiators begins. There is already agreement on power sharing and this was the last major issue to be settled. Only some minor items remain and both sides believe the final deal can be achieved in the next month or two. That would create an autonomous Moslem region in the south.
Tomorrow the 43
The army announced that its long-term campaign to destroy the leftist NPA rebels was making progress and that 36 percent of the 81 provinces were free of NPA activity. The army believes that within three years the NPA will be destroyed or reduced to insignificant remnants. In late 2013 the NPA withdrew from peace negotiations because the government was not willing to make the political concessions the NPA demanded.
A survey of business managers found a perception that despite well publicized government anti-corruption efforts in 2013 (and several major prosecutions) there was no noticeable decline in government corruption last year.
January 17, 2014: In the south (Mindanao) 11 NPA men have surrendered in the last week.
January 12, 2014: New corruption charges were filed against eight retired generals who are already accused of corrupt acts while they were on active duty.
January 11, 2014: In the south (Sulu) Abu Sayyaf ambushed police and wounded three of them.
January 10, 2014: In the south (North Cotabato) a grenade exploded in a college classroom wounding 24 people.
January 9, 2014: A Chinese attempt to impose fishing restrictions in the South China Sea areas off the Philippines resulted in all the other nations in the area refusing to cooperate. The Chinese are demanding that all non-Chinese fishing boats ask permission to fish in the South China Sea except in waters very close (within 22 kilometers) to shore. This demand violates several international treaties and even the United States has accused China of illegal activity here. Now it’s up to China to try and use force to make their new rules work.
January 8, 2014: In the south (Sulu) three policemen were wounded during a friendly fire incident involving marines at a checkpoint.
January 6, 2014: In the south (Agusan del Sur province) seven soldiers and police were wounded when they were ambushed by NPA gunmen.
January 5, 2014: In the south (North Cotabato) the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) is accused of trying to extort money from companies working on a large irrigation project. The army has been vigorously hunting down BIFF members for over a year. This has resulted in hundreds of rebel losses (casualties and captures). In 2012 the main Moslem separatist group (MILF) negotiated a peace deal with BIFF which was then supposed to see the dissidents rejoin MILF and stop causing problems with their attacks on Christians in the south. That has not happened yet and apparently won’t. BIFF contains former members of MILF, something MILF leaders have played down for years. In 2012 MILF openly agreed with government demands to do something about these "outlaws". BIFF contained about a thousand armed men in early 2013 and MILF sought to negotiate a peace deal with the dissidents while publicly insisting that it would crush these rebel rebels. BIFF had become increasingly violent, and outspoken about how MILF is selling out Moslems. Now MILF will have to use force to coerce the BIFF outlaws to get with the new peace deal. Otherwise the treaty will turn into a civil war within the new Moslem homeland down south. BIFF refused to comply with the 2012 peace deal it made with MILF year and the current army operations are not being opposed by MILF.
January 1, 2014: In the south (the border between North Cotabato and Maguindanao) three days of troops fighting with BIFF left nine of the rebels dead.
December 31, 2013: In the south (Basilan) Abu Sayyaf bombed a New Years’ Eve celebration and wounded seven people. This was part of an effort to extort money from plantation owners. Elsewhere in the south (North Cotabato) a grenade was thrown into a church, wounding five people.
December 30, 2013: The government warned local officials in the area hit by Typhoon Yolanda that they would be prosecuted if caught trying to steal relief aid. There have been many reports of local officials stealing aid meant for typhoon victims. This is not unusual but the prompt government threats to punish the thieves is.
December 27, 2013: In the north (Leyte) ten NPA rebels attacked an army detachment doing Typhoon relief work. There were no casualties because of the half hour fire fight.