More and more Filipino fishermen are complaining to the government that they are being chased away from their traditional fishing areas off the Filipino coast by Chinese coast guard ships. This is particularly bad at Scarborough Shoal. This is in violation of a deal made last June with the Chinese. Not only did Chinese patrol boats soon return to Scarborough Shoal but Chinese fishing boats are again operating there and even erected a flimsy barrier (with rowboats, rope and fishing nets) across the entrance to the lagoon and forcibly preventing Filipino fishing boats from entering. Scarborough Shoal is in waters the Philippines claims (according to international law). The shoal is only 250 kilometers from the Philippines, and 1,200 kilometers from China. Despite this China claims ownership of Scarborough Shoal, but has not yet used deadly force to assert that claim. What China is apparently doing is sending patrol boats from their fishery protection service to “protect their fishermen”. According to China, they are in compliance with the June deal, as they never agreed that Chinese fishing boats could not operate around Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines does not agree but has refrained from sending warships to the shoal and chasing the Chinese fishing boats away. To Filipinos this is another example of China saying one thing and doing another.
MILF and government negotiators continue working out the details of a peace deal over Moslem autonomy in the south. MILF is impatient but the government points out that the deal has to be acceptable to most of the Filipinos MILF does not represent. 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 refuses to allow domination by Moslems in a more autonomous Moslem south. This issue has not been completely resolved. This deal does not please some radical groups, who may try to block implementation.
The Filipino Moslems claiming nearby Sabah say they have sent another thousand armed men to Sabah but have ordered them to remain quiet until after the May 5th elections in Malaysia. Filipino clan leader Raja Kiram openly invaded the Malaysian province of Sabah in February and sought to take control of the area because of an old claim his family had on the area. The invasion force was destroyed in March. The fighting resulted in over 80 dead (nearly all of them Filipinos). Malaysia believes there are still at least a hundred of the armed Kiram followers in the area and military forces continue to search for these invaders. Most of those already captured are being charged with murder and terrorism. Meanwhile over 5,000 Filipino civilians (most of them apparently working in Sabah illegally) have fled Sabah, many of them returning to the Philippines. Malaysia does not believe there are another thousand armed Kiram followers who have recently arrived. It is known that hundreds of Filipinos continue to flee Sabah each week as the Malaysian government is no longer tolerating Filipinos living illegally in Sabah.
April 19, 2013: In the south (the Sulu Sea) a Chinese fishing boat was removed from Tubbataha Reef where it had run aground April 8th. The Chinese boat was in a nature preserve closed to commercial shipping. Moreover the Chinese boat had 2,000 pangolins on board, an endangered species that is a valuable delicacy in China but illegal to fish in Filipino waters. The twelve man crew of the Chinese ship was arrested, even though they tried to bribe the nature park rangers who found them. At first the Chinese ship was thought to be a spy ship as the crew was dressed in military style camouflage uniforms.
April 18, 2013: In the south (Surigao del Sur province) two policemen held captive by the NPA escaped. Elsewhere in the south (Zamboanga Sibugay province) police clashed with 30 NPA men and forced the rebels to retreat. Apparently several of the communist rebels were wounded.
April 15, 2013: In the south (Basilan) soldiers attacked an Abu Sayyaf camp, killing eight terrorists. Three soldiers were wounded. MILF complained that their men were also attacked, but that was because a MILF camp was only 300 meters from the Abu Sayyaf camp and some gunfire came their way during the fighting. The government accuses MILF of tolerating the presence of Abu Sayyaf, which MILF denies.
April 14, 2013: In the south (Surigao del Sur province) two policemen were captured by NPA rebels.
April 12, 2013: The government noted that, if there were another war in Korea, the mutual defense treaty with the U.S. would allow America to use some Filipino bases to support American forces in Korea or headed there. The Philippines is hoping to get more commitment from the U.S. for support against growing Chinese aggression. The Chinese know that as long as they do not commit an obvious act of war they can push the Filipinos around without the risk of American military intervention.