Philippine Military Grabs Upper Hand in Mindanao

Philippine Military Grabs Upper Hand in Mindanao

TAWAU, Malaysia -- The Philippine military has gained the upper hand over militants fighting for an independent Islamic homeland in the country's south, after a series of deadly raids resulted in the destruction of rebel bases and pushed the conflict deeper into countryside.

Given the geography and the thousands of islands that surround Mindanao, no one expects the Philippine military to achieve a definitive victory over the insurgents and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But the offensive will restore some lost prestige to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo as she completes her last year of office. Arroyo was forced to watch haplessly last year as the MILF torched villages and displaced hundreds of thousands of Christians after a peace agreement was scrapped by the courts in August.

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