Philippine rebel ambush leaves five dead

Updated 04 August 2015
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Philippine rebel ambush leaves five dead

MANILA: One Philippine soldier and four Maoist guerillas were killed during a brief firefight near one of the rebel group’s last strongholds, the military said Tuesday.
New People’s Army rebels ambushed a two-truck military convoy at a remote village road on the island of Masbate on Monday, sparking a brief gun battle, army spokesman Major Angelo Guzman told AFP.
“Our troops fought back and reversed the tide, resulting in more casualties on the rebel side,” he added.
The surviving members of the rebel band fled, leaving behind the remains of four dead comrades, according to Guzman.
One soldier was killed and three others were wounded during the clash, he said.
The impoverished island of Masbate is one of the few remaining areas where NPA forces continue to attack government troops and fleece civilians.
The spokesman said the rebels had been more active in recent weeks as they attempted to project a strong image ahead of next year’s general elections.
During previous elections, local candidates were not allowed to campaign in rural areas near NPA strongholds unless they paid “revolutionary taxes” to the group.
The 4,000-strong NPA has waged a guerilla campaign for 46 years, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, largely in rural areas mired in poverty.
Peace negotiations have stalled under President Benigno Aquino as the government has refused to grant the rebels’ demand to free a number of their captured leaders who are facing criminal charges.


ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

Updated 50 min 30 sec ago
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ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

  • Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia
  • The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments.
Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia.
In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas in exchange for billions of dollars in investment and loans.
While China has cozied up to Cambodia, the United States and the European Union have admonished Hun Sen, the nation’s ruler for 33 years, for his increasingly authoritarian rule.
In a rare speech outside of his country, his son, Hun Many warned the US-China trade spat may create lasting divisions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Perhaps one day ASEAN would have to choose between US or China,” Hun Many said in Bangkok.
“How would we see the trade war spill or expanded in other areas? Surely it will pressure individual members of ASEAN or ASEAN as a whole to choose sides.”
The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia, while a slump in Chinese spending would impact its trading partners.
Cambodia’s strongman Hun Sen has welcomed Chinese investment to pump-prime his country’s economy.
At the same time, he has accused the US of trying to foment revolution in Cambodia by supporting his critics.
Both the US and EU decried the July elections, which were held without a credible opposition and gave Hun Sen another term in power.
When asked which of the superpowers Cambodia would side with, the Australian-educated Hun Many demurred.
“At the end of the day, it depends on those who are involved to take a more responsible approach for their decisions that affects the entire world,” he said.
Earlier this week, Hun Sen swatted away concerns that Beijing will construct a naval base off the southwest coast of Cambodia, which would provide ready access to the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing claims most of the flashpoint area, infuriating the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan who all have competing claims to its islands and potentially resource-rich waters.
Hun Many, who described himself as a “proud son,” is widely believed to be in the running to one day replace his father.
His elder brother, Manit, is the head of a military intelligence unit while Manet, the oldest, was promoted in September to the chief of joint staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well as the commander of the infantry army headquarters.
But Many brushed aside the notion.
“It is way too soon to say that I am in the next generation of leaders,” he said.