The government is repeating its warnings to foreigners to avoid southern areas around the Sulu Sea (Jolo, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Sibugay province and parts of Palawan) where Islamic terrorists like Abu Sayyaf regularly operate. The government is putting more pressure on MILF to help track down Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. MILF provided some assistance in the recent search for two German hostages, but not enough to find them before ransom was paid and the two were released. It is illegal to pay ransom in the Philippines, as it is a primary source of income for Islamic terrorist groups. The government ordered an investigation of the recent release of the two Germans because Aby Sayyaf subsequently released a video on the Internet shows large stacks of cash they claim were the ransom. Big ransoms still get paid, in part because so many Filipino can be bribed to help make it happen despite the law.
While the Philippines seeks closer military relationships with Japan and the United States China is offering to increase economic investments in the Philippines. China sees cash as another weapon in its campaign to assert control over offshore areas that belong to the Philippines.
November 3, 2014: The army was ordered to increase its efforts against Abu Sayyaf. This was prompted by a recent Aby Sayyaf ambush that killed six soldiers and the publicity given an illegal ransom paid for the recent release of two Germans by the Islamic terrorist group. The army believes that Abu Sayyaf has about 200 full time members and at least 200 trusted supporters. With the latest ransom those numbers will likely increase. Abu Sayyaf pays well in a region that has lots of poverty and high unemployment.
In the north (Albay province) NPA rebels ambushed and killed two off-duty soldiers. Some of the soldiers summoned after the incident caught up with and clashed with five NPA men, who got away.
November 2, 2014: In the south (Basilan Island) about twenty Abu Sayyaf gunmen ambushed an army patrol and killed six soldiers. The Islamic terrorists took casualties as well but took them with them as they retreated.
November 1, 2014: In the south (Jolo Island) soldiers attacked a group of about 60 Abu Sayyaf fighters. Helicopter gunships were called in as well. An Abu Sayyaf camp was seized but the Islamic terrorists got away with their dead and wounded. The captured terrorist base was hidden inside a village. The locals were paid (or threatened) to provide assistance (and keep quiet). It was discovered that some of the dozen Filipino and foreign hostages held by Abu Sayyaf had been at this base for a time.
October 29, 2014: In the south (Basilan Island) police raided an Abu Sayyaf safe house and arrested a close associate of the Aby Sayyaf founder.
October 26, 2014: In the south (Maguindanao province) police arrested a wanted Islamic terrorist bomb builder. The man (Abu Salman) was wounded by gunfire as he sought to escape. Salman had a $30,000 price on his head. He had earlier worked for Indonesian Islamic terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.
October 22, 2014: In the south (Maguindanao province) eight members of BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) attacked and killed two soldiers guarding a hospital. The killers escaped with the rifles of the two soldiers. BIFF is a breakaway faction of MILF that refuses to accept the peace deal.
October 20, 2014: In the south (Sulu Island) soldiers found an abandoned Abu Sayyaf outpost.
October 19, 2014: In the south (Sulu Island) soldiers found two Abu Sayyaf camps. One was built to hold at least a hundred people while the second one contained 47 bunkers.
October 17, 2014: Abu Sayyaf says they received a $5.5 million ransom for the release of two Germans they had held since taking them from their yacht off Palawan Island in April 2014. The government denied that any ransom was paid. Abu Sayyaf is also demanding about a million dollars each for two Malaysians they are holding and much less for local Filipinos. Abu Sayyaf had threatened to behead the Germans if the ransom was not paid. Abu Sayyaf also demanded that Germany and the United States halt operations against Islamic terrorists in Syria but what they really wanted was the cash.
October 15, 2014: In the south (Davao Occidental) troops killed two NPA rebels and captured two others after a 45 minute long gun battle. Soldiers recovered ten assault rifles left behind by other rebels who fled.
In the north (Luzon) an army patrol encountered fifty NPA rebels and lost two dead and two wounded before the rebels fled, taking their casualties with them.
October 12, 2014: In the south (Agusan del Norte) two NPA rebels were arrested and identified as men who had been destroying equipment of companies that refused to make extortion payments.