Philippines teeters on brink of total war
U.S. assistance provides the fuel for chaos in Pacific archipelago, with plans for an escalation of hostilities on the horizon
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have launched a new military campaign against radical Muslim insurgents in its southern regions, an offensive nominally aimed at finishing off the hobbled 300-member Abu Sayyaf terror group, but one that also threatens to widen the conflict with two ceasefire groups, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Manila recently ramped up its military deployment to the restive region, where estimates of soldiers on the ground ranging widely from 5,000-12,000. Army chief General Romeo Tolentino recently announced that he had temporary moved army headquarters from Manila to Zamboanga City on the southern island of Mindanao while the campaign is conducted.
Fighting on the southern island of Jolo this month saw 50 people – including 25 army soldiers – killed in armed exchanges, and thousands of civilians have since evacuated the area.
Significantly, the MNLF has claimed responsibility for certain recent attacks. The Philippine military first launched Operation Endgame against the radical group back in 2002, but failed to live up to its billing without foreign assistance.
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While Philippine guns will be trained heavily on restive southern territories, the NPA has already said the new legislation is grounds for launching undefined “tactical offensives” against the government. With troops on the move and rebel groups crying foul, expect more violence and perhaps a widened conflict across the Philippine archipelago in the months ahead.
In an almost totally unreported front of America’s “war on terror” thousands of Filippino troops have been ‘advised’ by U.S. detachments since 2001 in what they say is a fight against muslim fanatics. However, an increasing death toll amongst leftist activists, and mass social unrest in mining areas tells a more accurate story.
The hundreds of millions of dollars that the U.S. has handed over to the brutal Arroyo government has not been spent purely on removing muslim resistance in the far south of the nation.
Its people and their resistance have been the major target and if this analysis is accurate, it looks like things are going to get worse.