The covid19 economic recession is now estimated to result in a seven percent decline in the GDP for 2020. This compares after an average 6.6 percent annual GDP growth from 2015 to 2019. GDP growth is expected to resume in 2021 and 2022 with both years having 5-6 percent growth. The difficulty in dealing with the post-covid19 economic recovery is that it is being exploited by China, who offers large investments in return for less official criticism about Chinese asserting their ownership of the South China Sea.
The covid19 panic continues to keep the NPA communist rebels quiet. The smaller Islamic terror groups have also been idle most of the year. The war on drugs continues as do efforts to reduce corruption. Both these projects have made progress but there is still much to be done. Filipinos are more concerned with the economy than with Islamic terrorist or communist violence. Politicians are acting accordingly.
September 29, 2020: In the south (Sulu province) soldiers searching for Abu Sayyaf found 30 of the Islamic terrorists and after a 30-minute gun battle one soldier and two Islamic terrorists were dead. Seven soldiers and an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf men were wounded. The surviving Islamic terrorists got away, taking their wounded with them.
In the capital the Minister for foreign affairs met with the Chinese ambassador to discuss “strategic cooperation” between the two nations. The ambassador later explained that this meant China would continue its substantial investments in the Philippines while the Filipino government would put aside their opposition to Chinese activities in the South China Sea.
September 28, 2020: In the south (Sulu province) soldiers, acting on a tip from local civilians, found and attacked an Abu Sayyaf camp. While the Abu Sayyaf men present fled, troops killed a known Abu Sayyaf bomb builder. The dead man is also a cousin of the Abu Sayyaf leader that organized the August 24 twin-bombings in Jolo province.
Elsewhere in Sulu province another group of soldiers, searching for five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped from their boat in January by Abu Sayyaf found the hideout where the five hostages were being held. The troops attacked in an effort to free the captives. Abu Sayyaf got away with their captives although the next day one of the captives was found dead. He was apparently shot while trying to escape.
September 27, 2020: In the south (Zamboanga City) police arrested the deputy of local ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) leader Mundi Sawadjaan. ISIL was responsible for the August 24 dual bombing in the far south Jolo province
September 25, 2020: In the south (Sulu province) two Abu Sayyaf members surrendered to the police. The two were convinced to surrender after they had been convinced to do so by an associate who had surrendered earlier in the month. The security forces have an amnesty program that applies to most Abu Sayyaf members and offers a safe way out of the Islamic terrorist organization that does not usually tolerate such departures.
September 23, 2020: President Duterte gave a speech for the UN general assembly in which he asked for the UN to back him up in pressuring China to abide by a 2016 international court ruling that China was illegally trying to take control of the South China Sea. Days later Duterte said he had discussed the matter with the Chinese leader and both agreed to put the court ruling aside for the moment while China would continue being a major investor in the Filipino economy.
September 16, 2020: In the south (Zamboanga Sibugay province) soldiers killed six Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorists in two related clashes. Four soldiers and three civilians were wounded. The initial clash in one village, with at least ten Abu Sayyaf gunmen, led to a brief pursuit to another village where some of the Abu Sayyaf men were cornered and killed. The pursuit continued after the second clash but the remaining Abu Sayyaf men got away, taking some wounded with them. The army believed this group of Abu Sayyaf were on their way to carry out a kidnapping when the soldiers intercepted them.
August 24, 2020: In the south (Jolo province) Abu Sayyaf carried out twin bombings in Jolo, the provincial capital. One bomb, hidden in a motorcycle parked near a group of soldiers went off, killing 12 people (five soldiers, a policeman and five civilians). The second attack used a female suicide bomber who attempted to get near the site of the first bombing. A soldier stopped the suicide bomber who then detonated her explosives killing herself and the soldier. These two attacks also left 75 people wounded. Abu Sayyaf, which now considers itself the local branch of ISIL, took credit for the attack.