RP Military Orders Transfer Of US Camp In Sulu

January 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 11, 2008) – The Philippine military said it would relocate a marine camp put up near a government hospital in the southern province of Sulu after a scandal involving US troops.

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. American troops who put up their camp at a Filipino marine base near the hospital even told the doctors to treat their patients at the municipal hall.
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 meddling of US troops in local affairs drew widespread criticism and protests from provincial leaders and triggered calls from political activists in Manila for Congress and Senate to hold an investigation into the incident.
US military commanders in Sulu apologized for the incident and the Philippine military ordered the soldiers away from the hospital. US soldiers insist there is a threat against them in the town from suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.
“We will transfer the marine base and probably put it in another village,” Philippine Army Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael told the Mindanao Examiner.
Rafael said they were considering transferring the base in the village called Bitan-ag, a former rebel stronghold also in Panamao town.
Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan allowed the resumption of the hospital operations at night to cater to emergencies and patients in Panamao after a meeting with military and town officials.
“The hospital has resumed operations at night and everything is back to normal again,” Brigadier General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the local Army Special Forces, said.
Philippine and US troops are to begin a new joint military training called Balikatan 2008 in Sulu in March.
Balikatan, which means “shoulder-to-shoulder,” is the codename of the joint anti-terror drill held each year since 2001. The training is part of Washington security assistance to the Philippines, a key US ally in Southeast Asia in the so-called global war on terrorism. (Mindanao Examiner)


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