February 7, 2015: The government has a major crises with the Moslems in the south because the main separatist organization down there (MILF) was recently exposed as deliberately sheltering two notoriously international Islamic terrorists, including Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir. This man was a member of Jemaah Islamiah, had a $5 million price (offered by the U.S.) on his head and was killed in a January 25 th police raid. A finger was cut off as proof and the American FBI later analyzed the DNA in the finger and confirmed the finger belonged to a brother of Hir that the U.S. had a DNA sample of. This forced the government to openly call for MILF to hand over Abdul Basit Usman, who was believed to be staying in the same village as Hir but escaped. MILF is not willing to do that, especially because the January 25 raid left 44 police commandoes dead as well as eleven MILF gunmen and at least one civilian. This incident puts the recently signed peace deal with MILF at risk. That’s because the raid was carried out without informing MILF beforehand. That, however, was done on purpose because the national police knew that MILF would alert any of the Islamic terrorists they are sheltering if informed beforehand and the police raid would find nothing. MILF and the government are not happy that this unofficial arrangement is now out in the open. The person in charge of the raid, police general Alan Purisima, was the one who obtained the location of Hir and arranged to have the raid carried out without informing MILF or the army (which has been diligent about following the terms of the ceasefire and informing MILF about any operations in MILF controlled areas). It gets stranger still because Purisima has been suspended since December because of corruption charges and is also an old friend of president Aquino. Purisima had the clout to pull all this off, apparently in the hope that Hir and manybe another Islamic terrorist would be taken alive. It was hoped that the size of the raiding force (325 police commandos) would discourage armed opposition from MILF. But there was armed opposition even as the commandoes sneaked into the village where Hir was staying and triggered an eleven hour gun battle. The raid did result in Hir being killed but as the commandos withdrew more and more MILF gunmen came after them. Because the police had not told the army about the raid, the army did not have a rapid reaction force standing by to move in and help. So it took several additional hours for the army to get troops to the area and help get the commandos out of a major battle with MILF. Now there are calls for the president to resign and outrage over MILF’s continued sanctuary for wanted Islamic terrorists. MILF also said it would not punish, or turn over to the government, any of the MILF gunmen involved in fighting the police commandos to protect the Islamic terrorist sanctuary the village had become.
MILF has a problem in that a sizable minority of southern Moslems (ten percent or more) want to hold out, and keep fighting, to establish a separate Moslem state in the south. MILF leaders know this is impossible because a majority of the people in the south are opposed to this. That includes a majority of the Moslems and the nearly all the non-Moslems in the south. Moslems are only eight percent of all Filipinos, and an even smaller proportion of the economic activity. MILF wants control of more of the economy, which meant control of "ancestral Moslem areas" in the south that are now populated by Christians. The Christian majority refused to allow domination by Moslems in a larger and more autonomous Moslem south. MILF settled for a smaller autonomous area that had a Moslem majority. This issue is still a big deal for many Moslems. Because of the aftereffects of the January 25th raid the peace deal (for autonomy in Moslem majority areas of the southwest) MILF agreed to could now turn into an armed rebellion against MILF.
As part of the cease fire and peace deal MILF had agreed not to provide sanctuary for Islamic terrorists, but has not done that, nor is it willing to fight local Moslems who guard and shelter these wanted killers. To many Moslems Islamic terrorists who have killed non-Moslems are heroes. This becoming widely known puts pressure on Filipino legislators to not ratify the MILF peace deal (signed in March 2014.)
Meanwhile there is still the crisis with China. The navy has ordered two strategic sealift vessels, which are fast transports for getting troops or supplies to one of the disputed islands China is trying to take from the Philippines. The two vessels are being built in Indonesia and will be delivered in 2017. This is part of a five year $1.8 billion effort to upgrade the navy. The Philippines also recently signed a naval cooperation agreement with Japan. This will allow coordination of military operations against Chinese aggression.
February 6, 2015: In the south (Jolo) several days of skirmishing with a about a hundred Islamic terrorists belonging to Abu Sayyaf led to a clash that left eight of the Islamic terrorists dead. Thirteen troops were wounded but most of the Islamic terrorists scattered. On nearby Sulu Island five soldiers were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf gunmen.
President Aquino accepted the resignation of general Purisima, the head of the national police and the organizer of the recent raid in the south that left 44 policemen dead.
February 5, 2015: In the south (Agusan del Norte) soldiers clashed with NPA rebels. The communist rebels ran away, but took some casualties and left ten firearms and much ammo behind. The troops suffered no casualties. Elsewhere in the south (Sulu) troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf and killed two of the Islamic terrorists.
February 4, 2015: In the south (Surigao del Norte) when a bomb went off in a bus. Another bomb was found in another bus and disabled.
February 3, 2015: In the central Philippines (Northern Samar) soldiers clashed with NPA gunmen. One soldier was killed and the leftist rebels fled, but not before two of them were captured.
February 2, 2015: In the south (Sultan Kudara) a bomb went off in a market wounding two civilians. This is believed to be a revenge attack because of a recent police raid that killed a prominent Islamic terrorist.
January 29, 2015: The government and MILF signed an agreement covering how MILF would disarm as part of the new peace deal.
January 27, 2015: In the south (Basilan) a senior member of Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf escaped from prison, along with six other men.
January 25, 2015: In the south (Maguindanao) a police raid to arrest an Islamic terrorist turned into an eleven hour gun battle that left nearly sixty dead and dozens wounded. One Islamic terrorist (Zulkifli bin Hir) was killed but another got away. At first the government called the clash an “accident”. That changed as more details came out.
Elsewhere in the south (Zamboanga city) a bomb went off next to a bus terminal killing two and wounding 54. This attack was believed carried out by former members of Abu Sayyaf who had formed a local branch of the more radical ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). There are several of these pro-ISIL factions operating in the south. There appear to be at least a hundred Filipino Moslems who have these ISIL type groups so far.
January 22, 2015: In the south (Bukidnon province) an NPA landmine killed one soldier and wounded four others.
January 21, 2015: The government complained again of continued and increased Chinese military activity within the Philippines EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone, waters 380 kilometers from the coast) in the South China Sea. Filipinos have been fishing reefs and other shallow waters within the EEZ for centuries, long before there was a Philippine state and without interference from Chinese fishermen who occasionally showed up. That’s because fishing boats with refrigeration, a 20th century invention, only recently made it possible for Chinese fishermen to scour the entire South China Sea for fish to catch, refrigerate and carry back to China. The latest Filipino protests emphasize continued Chinese work on constructing concrete structures on some of these reefs, apparently to make possible the establishment of military bases. China says this is within their rights and no one is trying to stop them with force. The victims of all this aggression are waiting on the United States to take the lead in confronting China. The U.S. has declined so far. The Philippines regularly protests the growing number of Chinese warships and coast guard vessels making “sovereignty patrols" within the Filipino EEZ. China rejects such complaints as without merit because China owns the South China Sea and to the Chinese that is settled law.
January 20, 2015: In the south (Basilan) troops discovered and destroyed four Abu Sayyaf camps. The operation took several days and resulted in six Abu Sayyaf men killed and one soldier wounded. The Islamic terrorists fled their camps at the approach of the troops and left many landmines and booby traps behind to delay pursuit.