US Military Covering Up Sulu Incident

January 1, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 01, 2008) – US military authorities continue to deny reports that American soldiers have forcibly closed down a government hospital in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

US troops in Sulu ordered last month a hospital in Panamao town to close every night and prevented medical personnel from treating patients after sundown.
Dr. Silak Lakkian, head of the hospital, has complained about how US troops meddled into their operations.
US soldiers also threatened to shoot anybody in the hospital incase there is an attack by terrorists. American soldiers have been in Sulu since 2006 to train local forces to hunt members of the Abu Sayyaf group said to have links to Al-Qaeda.
The Philippine military also ordered US troops away from the hospital. There were alleged threats to US forces camped near the hospital.
The meddling of US troops in local affairs drew widespread criticism and protests from provincial leaders and has triggered calls from political activists in Manila for Congress and Senate to hold an investigation into the incident.
“They have already apologized,” Philippine Army Special Forces commander Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan told the Mindanao Examiner.
Provincial governor Abdusakur Tan had angrily criticized the nightly closure, saying US troops did not have the authority to make that order. He also ordered the resumption of hospital’s operation at night to cater to emergencies.
But the US military command in Zamboanga City has continuously denied the incident, despite an investigation over the weekend about the incident.
The Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City quoted a US military spokesperson, Lt. Cdr. Melissa Schuermann, as saying: “All these information were allegations and are not true unless proven otherwise.”
A Philippine military spokesman Maj. Eugene Batara said Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga ordered a separate investigation into the meddling of US forces in the operation of the hospital.
He said the Western Mindanao Command and the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines have exerted coordinative efforts to address the reported incidents and bring out the truth regarding the matter.
“The directive to investigate is to determine the truthfulness of the allegations and the result of the investigation shall serve as the basis in recommending the appropriate punishment to the guilty party or mediate the differences or misunderstanding between the parties involved if any.”
“The Western Mindanao Command chief further stressed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall uphold the sovereignty and integrity of the Filipinos and shall bring the matter to proper US authorities if warranted, pending the result of the investigation of (Philippine Army’s) Joint Task Force Comet (in Sulu),” Batara said.
“The hospital has resumed operations at night and everything is back to normal again,” Pabustan said.
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called on Congress and the Senate to immediately launch a thorough probe on the real role of US troops in Mindanao.
“We are calling on both Houses of Congress, to call for respective investigations on the matter…We have to uphold our sovereignty if not then foreigners will just trample it under their feet,” Rafael Mariano, chairman of KMP and president of the Anakpawis party-list group, said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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