SULU ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 31, 2007) – The Philippine military ordered US troops away from a government hospital after they forcibly closed it down in the southern province of Sulu.
US troops ordered Muslim doctors and hospital staff to close down the Panamao District Hospital at night since December 3. American troops who put up a 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 insist there is a threat against them in the town from suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, but the report was disputed by local security forces.
American soldiers are in Sulu since 2006 to train Filipino troops and assist and advice them in the so-called war on terror. Rebels are active in Sulu province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.
On Monday, the Philippine military banned US soldiers from near the hospital and even sent Filipino soldiers to guard the hospital.
The governor of Sulu, 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 over the weekend.
At the meeting, the US military commanders in Sulu apologized for the incident.
“The hospital has resumed operations at night and everything is back to normal again,” Brigadier General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the Philippines Army Special Forces in Sulu, told Mindanao Examiner.
The news of the incident only broke out Saturday after hospital staff complained to authorities and journalists about how US troops forcibly shut down the hospital at night and even threatened to shoot anybody if there was an attack against the foreigners.
“US troops have no authority to impose on us,” the governor said.
The US military tried to cover up the incident and denied it ever happened and blamed the local media for the “blunder.”
Local villagers and some Filipino troops also have complained about the arrogance of US soldiers in Sulu. Some US troops have allegedly treated Filipino soldiers like vassal.
Some US troops also prevented curious Muslim villagers to go near them in public places as though the locals were terrorists.
American troops had in the past also harassed Filipino journalists who were covering joint RP-US military war games in Zamboanga City and Sulu and in some occasions arrested and seized the cameras of reporters who took photos and videos of them.
It was also in Sulu that hundreds of US soldiers slaughtered some 800 Muslim villagers, including innocent women and children, during the Moro rebellion in March 1906 that has become known as the First Battle of Bud (Mount) Dajo also called the "Moro Crater Massacre."
During this battle, 790 men and officers, under the command of Colonel J.W. Duncan, assaulted the volcanic crater, which was held by several hundred rebels protecting Muslim villagers. (Mindanao Examiner)