U.S. Solons Inspect American Troops In Southern Philippines

August 25, 2007 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments





U.S Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), protected by a Filipino and an American agent, gets off his bullet-proof car Saturday Aug. 25, 2007 in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines where Abu Sayyaf militants tied to al-Qaeda terror network, detonated a bomd Tuesday and wounding 14 people. Reyes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is accompanied by Reps. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R–New Jersey), Heather Wilson (R–New Mexico), Gregory W. Meeks (D–New York), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D–Maryland) and met with Filipino Mayor Celso Lobregat and U.S. military commanders in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Aug) – Five American lawmakers arrived in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, where hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was accompanied by Reps. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R–New Jersey), Heather Wilson (R–New Mexico), Gregory W. Meeks (D–New York), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D–Maryland).

They met with Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat before heading to a small U.S. base inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters. Security was tight during their visit and Filipino soldiers and U.S. agents protected the lawmakers.

Reyes described the delegation’s visit as a welcome opportunity to travel to the Philippines to see, first hand, the close cooperation between the Philippines and the United States on several fronts.

“We look forward to meeting with a number of senior officials from the Philippine government, as well as our counterparts in the Philippine Congress,” he said.

“We hope to learn more about the many strong aspects of the U.S.-Philippines relationship, and to talk about ways that we can make our relations even stronger.”

U.S. troops are in Zamboanga City and Jolo island on the invitation of the Filipino government to train local troops in anti-terrorism warfare.

The visit of the U.S. lawmakers came four days after a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomb exploded in downtown Zamboanga and injured at least 14 people.

The Abu Sayyaf group which is tied to al-Qaeda terror network in on the U.S. list of foreign terror list and Washington offered as much as $5 million reward for any of the group’s known leaders.

“Recent events remind us that our two nations are not just historical allies, but allies in today’s fight against terrorists,” Reyes said.

Philippine authorities said the Abu Sayyaf is coddling two Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek in Jolo island. Jakarta tagged the duo as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian tourists.

While in Zamboanga City, the mayor briefed the U.S. politicians about the local demography and prospects of investments. And the solons were also introduced to the members of the City Council and two Filipino lawmakers, Reps. Erico Fabian and Maria Isabelle Climaco.

After the meeting with the mayor, the solons then met with Filipino and American military commanders and also inspected U.S. troops.

Reyes said they would review the U.S. military assistance to the Philippines when they return home. He assured that the U.S. Congress will not cut any financial aid it is giving Manila to fight terrorism.

“We will continue to pour support to boost whatever efforts both countries have done to fight terrorism,” he said at a news conference at the Zamboanga City Hall.

The presence of U.S. troops in southern Philippines have triggered speculations that Washington is putting up military bases to protect its interests in the restive, but mineral-rich region.

Reyes said the U.S. is not putting up any bases in the Philippines.

Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based international research institute that has been monitoring U.S. military actions in the Philippines, said an American-based construction unit has been spending $14.4 in Mindanao.

In a little-reported development that has come to the attention of the institute, the US Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) had in June 6, 2007, awarded a six-month $14.4-million contract to a certain “Global Contingency Services LLC” of Irving, Texas for “operations support” for the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

According to its own website, the NAVFAC is the unit within the US military that is in charge of providing the US Navy with “operating, support, and training bases.” It “manages the planning, design, and construction and provides public works support for US Naval shore installations around the world.” Among their business lines are “bases development” and “contingency engineering.”

The JSOTF-P is the unit established by the US Special Operations Command that has been stationed in the southern Philippines since 2002 and which Focus on the Global South believes has established a new kind of US basing in the country.

According to the announcement by the Pentagon, the contract awarded to Global Contingency Services LLC includes “all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, incidental engineering, and other items necessary to provide facilities support services.”

Global Contingency Services LLC is a partnership between DynCorp International, Parsons Global Services, and PWC Logistics. The $14.4 million contract is actually part of a bigger $450-million five-year contract for Global Contingency Services to “provide a full range of world-wide contingency and disaster-response services, including humanitarian assistance and interim or transitional base-operating support services.”

According to Focus’ research, the JSOTF-P has not only been involved in the Philippine military’s operations in the south, it also represents the new kind of more austere, more low-profile kind of overseas presence that the US has been striving to introduce as part of its comprehensive restructuring of its forward-deployment.

A Philippine commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement on Friday denied the report and said the U.S. is not building any bases in the south, but living quarters for troops training local soldiers.

But Focus on the Global South on Saturday said the Philippines is listed by the U.S. Overseas Basing Commission as developing “cooperative security locations.”

 

The Philippines is also described by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, a US government body, as a supply base for military operations throughout the region. U.S troops refer to their bases in Mindanao as “Advanced Operating Base-920.

Focus on the Global South said it believes that consistent with U.S. and host-government practice in other countries hosting American bases facing domestic opposition, the Washington and Manila are deliberately seeking to keep the nature of U.S. military presence in the country secret.

”According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s definition, “Cooperative Security Locations” – of which the Philippines are confirmed by the OBC to be hosting – are facilities technically owned by host governments that would only be used by the U.S. in case of actual operations; though they could be visited and inspected by the U.S.

“They would most likely be ran and maintained by host-nation personnel or even private contractors; useful for pre-positioning logistics support or as venues for joint operations with host militaries. They are, however, considered as U.S. military facilities by the Pentagon,” it said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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  1. […] U.S Representative Silvestre Reyes , protected by a Filipino and an American agent, gets off his bullet-proof car Saturday Aug. via The Mindanao Examiner […]

  2. […] U.S Representative Silvestre Reyes , protected by a Filipino and an American agent, gets off his bullet-proof car Saturday Aug. via The Mindanao Examiner […]


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