America's War on the Philippines

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posted by Lorenzo 3:19 PM


 
Fierce fighting in Philippines
(BBC News, 2 August 2006)
The Philippine military says five members of the Muslim group the Abu Sayyaf have been killed in fierce fighting in the south of the country. . . . Rockets have been fired and bombs dropped on a base of suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo island. . . . The army says five soldiers were wounded and a civilian guide was killed in the clashes, which started on Tuesday. . . . The casualties cannot be independently confirmed. . . . Heavy fighting broke out on Jolo after soldiers caught up with militants fleeing the air strikes on their camp. . . . The United States believes two main suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings - Dulmatin and Umar Patek - are also hiding in the south. The Philippine military says it is confident it will flush them and Abu Sayyaf's leader, Khaddafy Janjalani, out of Jolo. . . . Abu Sayyaf is the smallest of four Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines with around 400 members. . . . Muslim separatists have been fighting in the south since the 1960s for greater independence from the mainly Catholic government in Manila. . . . The conflict has killed over 120,000 people and stunted development in the area, which is rich in natural resources.


posted by Lorenzo 10:23 AM


 
Mystery U.S. military troop ship sighted near Zambo

A US military ship, escorted by a small gunboat, was spotted Tuesday off the southern Philippines, where security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. . . . Filipino security officials said they were unaware of the presence of the US ship. Nothing on its bow identified what class the vessel was, except a US flag hoisted on the deck. . . . Local fishermen watched in awe as the ship appeared on the horizon off Basilan Island and sailed past Zamboanga City around 8 a.m. . . . It was not known if the ship was involved in antiterrorism operations in Mindanao. But the US is helping the Philippine military fight terrorism in the region, where two Jema'ah Islamiyah bomb makers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings, are believed to be hiding. . . . The US Embassy in Manila said that only two US warships could be near Zamboanga or Basilan but they are present in international waters. . . . Jacki Lyons, an embassy and JUSMAG information officer, said one of them is the USS Stockholm, which belongs to the US Seventh Fleet, but she did not identify what kind of ship it was. . . . The US 11th Fleet website, however, did not list a USS Stockholm as among its ships. . . . The other ship, she said, is a smaller, high-speed vessel (HSV) used to transport personnel and equipment. Lyons did not identify the HSV. . . . The HSV, Lyons said, is scheduled for a routine port visit in a week or so in Basilan or Zamboanga to load equipment. . . . "I don’t know of other possibilities [other than the two ships]," she said. . . . Lyons stressed there is no way the two ships were going to dock in a Philippine port or even enter Philippine territory right now, because Manila has not given any clearance for any US warship to do so. . . . She said it is doubtful the Stockholm would dock in Basilan or Zamboanga because it was too big for either port. . . . The Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Gilberto Asuque, said he talked with US Embassy officials who made no mention about a US warship in Mindanao. . . . Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, Asuque said the embassy is also supposed to make an announcement if a warship will enter the country, including the posting of the vessel’s picture. . . . The USS Stockholm docked in Subic Bay in October 2004.

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Interestingly, the offficial U.S. Navy Web site does not list any ship named Stockholm. I did find a listing of a passenger liner by that name. If this is the same ship, what then do you suppose the U.S. Navy is doing sending it to the Philippines? Who are the 548 people they plan to take on board? OR do you suppose there are 500+ U.S. Marines on board waiting orders to land?


posted by Lorenzo 7:17 AM


 
Arroyo foes rally 30,000 protesters in Manila
(John O'Callaghan, Reuters, 13 July 2005)
Philippine opposition groups staged their biggest protest yet on Wednesday against President Gloria Macapagal, with analysts saying she may be threatened if her foes can stay united and beef up the size of rallies. . . . Police said the crowd in Manila's financial district peaked at about 30,000. The rally featured film stars, thumping music and chants for Arroyo to quit over allegations of vote-rigging in last year's election and graft by members of her family. . . . The protest by various groups was a big step up from recent rallies but still far from the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets to overthrow Ferdinand Marcos as dictator in 1986 and Joseph Estrada as president in 2001. . . . "The opposition appears to have regained its strength and increased the level of threat," said political analyst Earl Parreno. "The question is whether the opposition can sustain it." . . . A police intelligence officer said anti-Arroyo forces had a war-chest of 25 million pesos ($450,000) for protests due to run until Sunday. . . . The military and police were on maximum alert. Opposition groups complained that police had blocked caravans of supporters coming from the provinces. . . . The month-old crisis has kept financial markets nervous and raised fears that a protracted political battle would paralyze Arroyo's reforms aimed at raising revenues and cutting debt.


posted by Lorenzo 6:17 AM


 
Filipinos killed in US camp attack
(Al Jazeera, 12 May 2004)
Four Filipino workers have been killed in Iraq in a mortar attack on a US military camp amid continuing clashes across the country. . . . The contractors were among more than 1360 Filipinos working at Camp Anaconda in Balad, about 80km north of Baghdad. Another Filipino worker was killed by attackers in Iraq at the end of April.


posted by Lorenzo 4:42 PM


 
Philippines Will Not Send Additional Personnel to Iraq
(Michael Barker, Voice of America, April 15, 2004)
President Gloria Arroyo on Thursday ordered a halt on deploying additional forces to Iraq, where a number of foreigners have been kidnapped or killed in recent weeks. . . . She also asked officials to draw up a plan to evacuate Filipino citizens if security conditions in the country deteriorate. . . . There are about 1,000 documented Filipino civilians living in Iraq, as well as 50 soldiers and policeman deployed on a U.S.-led humanitarian mission. The military group is not in a conflict area and would remain, the presidential palace said. The troops would be called on to evacuate citizens if needed. . . . Reports on Thursday said about five hundred Filipino workers were stranded at a U.S. air base in Iraq and had not been able to leave the country. . . . A surge in kidnapping and violence against foreigners in Iraq has already seen Russian contractors pull their workers out of the country. One Filipino was kidnapped by Iraqi militants earlier this month but has since been released. About 40 foreigners are still believed to be held by militants in Iraq, and one hostage, an Italian, has been killed.


posted by Lorenzo 1:29 PM


 
Arroyo Says Philippines May Pull Out of Iraq
(Carlos H. Conde, New York Times, April 14, 2004)
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo suggested today that she might withdraw the small detachment of Filipino military troops and police officers stationed in Iraq if the situation there deteriorates. . . . "While the Philippine government is determined to help the Iraqi people in rebuilding their nation, the safety of our peacekeeping forces in Iraq is still our utmost concern," President Arroyo said in a statement. . . . A contingent of 43 Filipino soldiers and 8 police officers are stationed in south-central Iraq, working alongside Polish troops, Philippine officials said. . . . Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, an army spokesman, told reporters that a fresh contingent of 45 people was preparing to leave for Iraq this week to replace a group of soldiers, police officers and civilian doctors who returned to the Philippines a month ago. . . . "We have not received any formal directive to pull out or reduce our presence," he said. . . . But the growing violence in Iraq has prompted the Arroyo administration to reassess its presence there, officials said. Iraqi gunmen this week freed an unidentified Filipino driver who had been abducted on April 11 along with eight other foreigners who were traveling to Falluja. . . . Ms. Arroyo has been consistently criticized by her political opponents for her support of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Antiwar demonstrations have regularly occurred throughout the country, and protesters have called Ms. Arroyo a "puppet" of President Bush. . . . "For a country like the Philippines with its own set of domestic problems, maintaining Filipino troops in Iraq could hardly be seen as beneficial to our country," Renato Reyes, an antiwar organizer, said. "It's quite obvious that the coalition forces are unwanted in Iraq. Why is the Arroyo administration hell-bent on staying there?" . . . Ms. Arroyo is running in the presidential elections scheduled for next month, and her support of the American effort in Iraq is increasingly becoming a contentious election issue. Panfilo Lacson, a presidential candidate and the former national police chief, today called for the withdrawal of Filipino troops from Iraq.


posted by Lorenzo 3:28 PM


 
Philippines vows troops will remain in Iraq despite terror fears
(Asia Pacific News, 15 March 2004)
President Gloria Arroyo has said Philippine troops would remain in Iraq despite the renewed threat of terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the Spanish train blasts. . . . Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye said it was too early to blame the surprise defeat of the conservatives in Spain's elections on Sunday on a reaction to the country's support for the invasion of Iraq. . . . The Spanish socialists had pledged during their campaign to bring back Spanish troops posted in Iraq. . . . "There may be other factors that affected the outcome of the Spanish elections and we do not wish to comment on detail on what really happened," Bunye said. [COMMENT: I have it on good authority that the bombing, and only the bombing in Madrid is what changed Spain's political landscape in just 48 hours.] . . . "As far as the Philippine position on Iraq is concernned, we have not seen any nor have detected any change in the posture of the Philippine government," he said. . . . The security forces in the Philippines, one of Washington's staunchest anti-terror allies in Southeast Asia, are on alert to head off similar attacks, Bunye said. . . . "The terrorists have been known to strike their known opponents, but also they strike at the soft target. So what we should do is to keep our guard up at all times," he said. . . . Bunye said the Philippines would continue to work with the new Spanish government to preserve the "long historical and cultural ties between the Philippines and Spain." The Philippines was once a Spanish colony. . . . Calls have been mounting however for the Philippines to immediately repatriate its 96-man contingent serving with Polish troops south of Baghdad. . . . Manuel Villar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said well-organized terrorist attacks endangered the Filipinos. . . . "It is alarming to note that the government deos not have a clear plan on what to do with the volunteers in Iraq, who were supposed to come home more than two weeks ago," Villar said.


posted by Lorenzo 4:09 PM


 
Sixteen firms want to hunt for oil in Philippines
(Reuters, March 3, 2004)
The Philippines, a net importer of energy, said on Wednesday 16 foreign firms had submitted bids to develop oil and gas sites in the country's first auction of blocks around its biggest offshore field. . . . The energy department declined to identify the companies, but said firms that had indicated interest in the past included ChevronTexaco Corp, BHP Billiton Petroleum and Total. . . . The Southeast Asian country, struggling to lure investors as it seeks new energy supplies to feed rising domestic demand, offered 46 blocks covering deep to shallow water sites. . . . The blocks -- which range in size from 2,000 to 8,000 sq km -- are near the offshore Malampaya gas field and other oil producing fields close to the southern island of Palawan. . . . The $4.5 billion Malampaya gas project -- the country's largest foreign investment -- is operated by the Royal/Dutch Shell group and U.S.-based Chevron Texaco. Each holds a 45 percent stake, with the government owning the remaining 10 percent. . . . The Philippines said contractors could recover exploration and development costs from 70 percent of gross proceeds. They will get a maximum of 40 percent of the net proceeds, with 60 percent going to the government. . . . The contractors also will not have to pay national taxes. . . . Other firms that had expressed interest in the auction included Unocal Corp, BG Group Plc, Forum Energy Corp and Malaysian state oil company Petronas, an energy department spokeswoman said. . . . She also named Daewoo International Corp, Genting Oil and Gas, Shell Petroleum Exploration BV, ENI Indonesia, Schlumberger Ltd and Western Geco.

[COMMENT: Do you think there is any connection between this and the fact that the US is planning on opening new bases in the Philippines?]


posted by Lorenzo 1:25 PM


 
Three military officers detained over coup rumours
(The Manila Bulletin Online, March 2, 2004)
Three Philippine army officers have been detained for questioning over their alleged involvement in a destabilization plot against the government ahead of elections in May, an armed forces spokesman said Tuesday. . . . Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said two lieutenant colonels and one colonel were held last month for allegedly inciting army reservists to join anti-government protests. . . . Lucero said the protests were being planned in the eventuality that the front-runner in the presidential race, action movie star Fernando Poe Junior, was disqualified from the May 10 elections. . . . ''Instead of teaching the reservists military tactics and the art of war, the detained officers were discovered to be recruiting them,'' he said. . . . Poe is facing a disqualification case before the Supreme Court amid allegations he is not a natural-born citizen, a key requirement for running for president in the Philippines. . . . Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Joselito Kakilala said the three officers have already been re-assigned to the southern region of Mindanao after their interrogation. . . . ''Their partisan activities are contained and neutralised,'' he said. . . . Defence Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier warned of efforts by some groups and individuals to recruit soldiers and policemen to a coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is trailing Poe in the presidential race. . . . The Supreme Court was to decide on the disqualification case against Poe within the week. . . . In January, three junior army officers were arrested for allegedly plotting to oust Arroyo, who was brought to power by a military-backed mass uprising that ousted former president Joseph Estrada in January 2001. . . . Last year, Arroyo quelled a failed mutiny by some 300 soldiers who seized and booby-trapped a shopping centre in the financial district of Makati in July in a bid to oust her from office.


posted by Lorenzo 3:03 PM


 
US Plans on Building New Bases in the Philippines
(ChinaView.cn, 09 February 2004)
A senior US State Department official Monday was here to brief the Philippine authorities on US global defense posture. . . . Lincoln Bloomfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs, said he had discussed the "worldwide initiative to readjust the footprints of the US forces around the world" with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia Albert. . . . Philippine and American officials in Manila noted that Bloomfield's one-day consultation is related to the reported US plan to return its military bases here to the host country. . . . Philippine Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Ariel Abadilla said the return of the US bases is not partof the meeting's agenda, but adding that they discussed "certain eventualities" and cooperation on fight against terrorism. . . . "This (visit) is in accordance with their mandate from Bush on the need for the re-alignment of US forces to adjust to the needs of the times. Being allies, there are certain eventualities, we discussed how we can cooperate in fields like terrorism," Abadillasaid. . . . In a statement last November, US President George W. Bush announced that the United State would intensify its discussion with Asian and European allies over the global posture of US forces.


posted by Lorenzo 4:20 PM


 
Philippines tightens borders to keep out militants
(Manny Mogato, Reuters, 03 Feb 2004)
The Philippines is tightening its porous southern maritime borders with Malaysia and Indonesia with plans for two radar systems aimed at choking a flow of Islamic militants and weapons, a military official said on Tuesday. . . . The southern Philippines, home to four homegrown rebel groups seeking a separate Islamic state, is widely suspected of being a training ground for regional terror network Jemaah Islamiah. . . . Manila's plan came as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft was due to join officials from Asia-Pacific nations on the Indonesian island of Bali to discuss ways of enhancing security cooperation. . . . Garcia, who chairs the military's modernisation board, said 60 million pesos ($1.1 million) had been earmarked for the radar systems that will be set up on two islands east of the Malaysian state of Sabah and north of Indonesia's Kalimantan province. . . . He said the equipment would be able to monitor small wooden boats, such as the swift outriggers used by Abu Sayyaf rebels. . . . The Philippines has also proposed an exercise among troops from the three nations deployed in the border areas, beginning with a planning meeting next month on the southern island of Mindanao. . . . The security measures, Garcia said, are part of Manila's commitment under a May 2002 counter-terrorism agreement with Malaysia and Indonesia.


posted by Lorenzo 10:53 AM


 
Communist revival worries the Philippines
The Communist rebellion in the Philippines began 35 years ago. It foundered but has regained strength and, according to military estimates, now counts 10,000 fighters in its armed wing, the New People's Army. . . . The Communists "are our utmost security concern at present," even though they have been overshadowed by Muslim insurgents, said Col. Daniel Lucero, a military spokesman. "We consider them a much bigger threat than the Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or the Jemaah Islamiyah," he said. . . . In their camp high in the mountains of Compostela Valley province, the Communists go about their business: training cadres in military tactics and martial arts, organizing the residents below, helping peasants on their farms and studying what they call the "evils of U.S. imperialism." . . . "The U.S. is a brutal enemy," a guerrilla leader known as Richard told a dozen rebels during a class about the invasion of Iraq. "It will not hesitate to use or kill its own people." . . . Rubi del Mundo, a guerrilla spokeswoman, said: "U.S. interventionism is even more blatant nowadays. It used to just influence the passing of Philippine laws to benefit the business interests of American companies here. Now the U.S. is directly involved in counterrevolutionary activities" in the Philippines. . . . The number of rebels peaked at more than 25,000 in the 1980s, according to military estimates, but government spies began to penetrate the ranks of the New People's Army. Party officials purged the movement, torturing and killing hundreds of suspected spies. . . . The purges nearly destroyed the movement, but it began to creep back once the Communists sent guerrillas in the cities back to the countryside. In many remote parts of the country, the party functions as the government, providing services and a basic livelihood. . . . Hardly a week goes by without two or three gunbattles, and the military has responded with tough measures that have been roundly criticized. . . . Philippine analysts say it would be wrong to assume that Communist ideology is the main force driving the movement. . . . Jim, a 27-year-old former seminarian who has been in the mountains since 1996, said, "The more I see the suffering of the people, the more I am convinced of the justness of this cause." . . . Jim's wife, his mother, his four siblings and an uncle are also guerrillas. They joined the movement after Jim's father, a union activist, was abducted by the military during the Marcos years. He has never been found.


posted by Lorenzo 3:40 PM


 
NH Marine company back from Philippines
(Hunter McGee, Union Leader, January 1, 2004)
The 182 members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, were stationed on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines as part of the effort in the war on terrorism. . . . the Marines served in the Philippines at the invitation of the government there. Some of the missions involved providing security assistance so military doctors and nurses could help treat local inhabitants. On other assignments, they provided security so engineers could help construct a bridge in a community. . . . The Marines also guarded an airfield on the island and provided security for a number of supply convoys that ran from the airfield after the cargo of large C-130 aircraft was unloaded, Milanette said. . . . Some insurgent groups with ties to al-Qaida call Mindanao home, and it is known as “something of a hotbed” for rebel groups, Henderson said. . . . Although no casualties were reported during their stint on the island, the Marines were always on guard against attack. . . . “There certainly was the potential for that down there, the threat level was very high,” Milanette said. “There were direct threats against us.” . . . Truck bombs were the biggest concern, said Milanette, who served as the Marine security element commander during the mission.


posted by Lorenzo 1:49 PM


 
Philippines Arrest Two U.S. Brothers as "Terrorist Suspects"
(Hrvoje Hranjski, Associated Press, December 29, 2003)
Philippine authorities said Monday that they have arrested two American brothers for suspected links to terrorism, as the country remained on alert over the reported presence of foreign Muslim militants in the south. . . . Michael Ray Stubbs and his brother James, a convert to Islam, have been held at an undisclosed location since they were arrested earlier this month in the town of Tanza in Cavite province, 21 miles southwest of Manila, an immigration official said on condition of anonymity. The official said the brothers were of Middle Eastern origin but gave no other details. The authorities did not disclose the exact charges the men could face or provide details about their alleged links to terrorism. . . . The arrests came as the government warned earlier this month that Indonesian members of the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah have been training Filipino rebels in bomb-making and other tactics in the south of the country. . . . police and military forces have increased the security at ports, airports, train stations and other public places. . . . The Philippines previously has detained and deported foreigners on suspicion of terrorism.


posted by Lorenzo 12:13 PM


 
Leader of Abu Sayyaf kidnappers' group captured in Philippines
(Helsingin Sanomat, December 8, 2003)
The Philippines Army reported on Sunday that they had captured a senior rebel leader from the Islamic militant Abu Sayyaf group. Galib Andang, also known as "Commander Robot", is one of the top-ranking officers in Abu Sayyaf, a loose organisation that has been responsible for the kidnapping of numerous Western hostages in recent years. . . . Abu Sayyaf or "Bearer of the Sword" have been cited as terrorists by Washington and Manila, with alleged links to the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. However, their modus operandi has been mainly to kidnap foreigners for ransom, and the initial motivation - the fight for an independent Islamic state in the south of the Philippines - has given way to loosely organised banditry. . . . Galib Andang was apparently wounded in both legs in a firefight prior to his capture on Sunday. He was flown from Zamboanga City to Manila and taken by ambulance to Camp Aguinaldo, where he will presumably be interrogated. Filipino officials have not ruled out Andang's extradition to any country that wishes to put him on trial, but this will only be after he faces charges - and the possible death penalty - in the Philippines.


posted by Lorenzo 4:54 PM


 
Philippines may extend stay in Iraq
(JapanToday, December 7, 2003)
The Philippines may extend for another six months the presence of its contingent in war-torn Iraq, Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said Thursday.

The Philippine presence is composed of 55 soldiers, 26 policemen and 15 doctors and nurses. They are halfway into their six-month mission there that includes helping provide basic services and working with communities. (Kyodo News)


posted by Lorenzo 6:45 PM


 
Philippines pushes national ID system
(Borneo Bulletin Online, December 2, 2003)
President Gloria Arroyo has asked Congress to authorise a national identification system to help the Philippines combat terrorism and fraud . . . The system would combat swindling, electoral fraud, and preventing a terrorist from getting into the country using false identity papers "and causing so much damage to our economy", Golez said on ABS-CBN television. . . . Golez said concerns were "overblown" that a national ID system would restrict civil liberties or be used to harass government critics. He said those views were put forward by groups seeking to bring down the government through the use of arms. . . . President Arroyo this year designated the Jemaah Islamiyah, a group of Islamic militants operating in Southeast Asia with ties to al-Qaeda, as the Philippines' number-one security threat. Manila is also battling communist guerrillas and Muslim separatists.


posted by Lorenzo 10:21 PM


 
Radio broadcaster becomes 7th journalist murdered in the Philippines this year
(Category.net, December 2, 2003)
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) voiced outrage at the fatal shooting today of local radio broadcaster Nelson Nadura on the central island of Mastabe. His death brought the number of journalists murdered so far this year in the Philippines to seven, the highest annual total in 15 years. . . . The organisation stressed that, despite President Gloria Arroyo¹s proposal to pay some 15,000 euros to any person helping secure the arrest of the murderer of a journalist, no real progress has been made in the investigations into any of the recent murders. . . . Aged about 40, Nadura was shot five times as he was leaving the studios of radio DYME by motorcycle just a few minutes after presenting his morning news programme ³Opinion publico², which covers local and national politics. The police were looking for two gunmen who fled from the scene. DYME is owned by the Espinosa family, which is very influential on Mastabe island. Several of its members plan to run in next May¹s general elections. . . . A colleague of Nadura told Reporters Without Borders by telephone that the reasons for the killing are unknown. The police have said there could be a link to the guerrillas of the communist New People¹s Army (NPA), of which Nadura was once a member. . . . Nadura was the 43rd journalist to be murdered since 1986.


posted by Lorenzo 9:59 PM


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