Skip to comments.Death awaits U.S. soldiers, Muslim leaders in Sulu warn.
Posted on 02/25/2003 6:04:14 AM PST by Steel Wolf
Death awaits US soldiers, Muslim leaders in Sulu warn
by: Julie S. Alipala and Ayan C. Mellejor
Date: February 24, 2003
ZAMBOANGA CITY-Muslim political leaders here warned American soldiers joining combat operations in Sulu that they would be digging their own graves.
"It's like committing suicide, given the historical background of Sulu against the US colonization way back in (the) 1900s," Sulu Congressman Hussein Amin told the Inquirer.
Gov. Parouk Hussin of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shared the same view, saying the people of Sulu "have not forgotten their horrible experience" under the American soldiers. In 1906, American soldiers led by Gen. Leonard Wood killed over a thousand Tausugs (a Muslim ethnic group predominant in Sulu) in Bud Dahu in Patikul, Sulu. "It was characterized by bloody confrontation, a quagmire of violent situations. It was not something pleasant to recall, and I don't want people to face the same experience," Hussin said.
Amin said many Suluanos were "excited" about the arrival of the US soldiers because "for them, it's their chance to avenge their forefathers who were victims of the Americans' abuses in the past."
Amin and Hussin said that if the national government insisted on pushing through with the joint combat operations, US and Filipino forces would not only face the Abu Sayyaf but also the descendants of those killed in the 1906 massacre. The warnings of the Muslim leaders, who said they were not consulted by Malacañang, came after the White House confirmed reports that US troops would fight the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. But Malacañang insisted that US troops would "support" Filipino soldiers fighting the Abu Sayyaf through training and tactical advice. Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye, in separate radio interviews, said the White House actually affirmed Malacañang's position that US troops will not take part in combat.
Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said the government would have the final say on whether American troops would be allowed to operate in the country. "The exercise will be conducted on Philippine soil so the Philippines will be the one to decide what will happen and the President will decide on what will happen and what will be allowed to happen," Reyes told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Opposition mounts in Congress
Opposition from both chambers of Congress mounted, with many lawmakers dismissing the explanation that the Armed Forces would lead the operations. "It is Washington which will call the shots and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will play the subordinate role," Sen. Joker Arroyo said. "It [the Armed Forces] will not lead it, all in violation of our Constitution." Reyes left for the United States to meet his counterpart Donald Rumsfeld to discuss the controversial Sulu plan. He will first stop in Hawaii to meet Admiral Thomas Fargo, chief of the US Pacific Command.
As the controversy over the deployment of US combat troops deepened, Philippine and US forces officially opened a 10-month counterterrorism program Sunday in this city. Southern command chief Lt. Gen. Narciso Abaya declared the "Bayanihan Exercises" open, in which US troops will train 12 "light infantry battalions" of about 6,000 soldiers in intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism against the Abu Sayyaf.
Soldiers armed with assault rifles and Army snipers atop a three-story house stood guard outside the camp. "This is part of the $25-million security assistance but it's a small cost to pay to combat terrorism," US Air Force Special Forces Col. Douglas Lengendfelder told 100 Filipino and a dozen US soldiers at the opening ceremony.
In Davao City on Saturday, Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapuddin warned that armed Tausug families were the norm in Sulu. "Maybe, each house in Sulu possesses at least one gun," Salapuddin said. He said the people of Sulu had a deep-seated historical animosity against the Americans. "It is a scar left by the Americans that cannot be healed. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of history," he said. He joined other Muslim political leaders in chiding Malacañang for approving the Balikatan 03-1 in Sulu without consulting the ARMM leaders.
Amin, who was interviewed in Davao City, said he supported the joint training but he wanted it held in Luzon or Visayas--"not in my hometown for God's sake!"
Hussin said he was afraid they were now running out of time. "I am not happy, we are not being consulted. Maybe we still exercise more patience and wait for the national government to tell us about it," the ARMM governor said.
Philippine military officers warned that the fight in Jolo, Sulu would be much harder than last year's operation in Basilan. "If the Americans go to Jolo, they should prepare for the worst," said an intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officer, who worked with the Americans last year, said Jolo offers better defensive opportunities for the guerrillas than Basilan because the jungle was not as thick, allowing them to spot approaching troops at a distance. Supply will be more troublesome because there isn't a big base to support the US troops as there was on Basilan.
US soldiers will also come into contact with potentially hostile people more often because Jolo's airport and the two military camps suitable for US forces sit in crowded neighborhoods on the predominantly Muslim island. Islanders have bitter memories of the American soldiers led by Gen. John Pershing, who crushed a Muslim uprising on Jolo a century ago. "The wounds over the massacre of our forefathers by the American colonialists have not been healed," said Temojin Tulawie, leader of a new group opposing the decision by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to bring in US troops.
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said the Philippines should be prepared to place its own troops under US command if it allowed the Americans to engage in combat with Abu Sayyaf bandits and local sympathizers. "US regulations do not allow any of their American units to be placed under the command of any foreign commander whenever there are joint combat operations," Biazon said.
How can we wage a war on anything without those simple and entertaining diversions? Troops ned that kinda R&R!
This Muslim insurrection is over thirty years old. If the Filippinos can't get a handle on it by now, what makes us think that our re-fighting a jungle war is going to make a difference ?
This is one war that should be taken to the financiers, whether in Libya or Saudi Arabia.
In addition, let's count the number of war fronts where we have our servicemen participating: Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, Columbia, South Korea, the Philippines. Plus we have "consulting work" going on in Peru and who knows where else in South America and in Georgia, Uzbeckistan and other Eurasian countries. I don't mind the advising, but I do mind when we begin to do the job that these countries should be doing for themselves.
They are handling it, in their own way, by accepting bribes and going into partnership with the terrorists.
More reason why we shouldn't send American boys to do what Asian boys won't do for themselves.