SULU ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 29, 2007) – Philippine authorities have began an investigation into disturbing reports that US troops deployed in Sulu province had ordered the closure of a government hospital in the town of Panamao.
The soldiers allegedly barged into the Panamao District Hospital on Dec. 3 and ordered its closure for a still unknown reason.
US troops are in Sulu province since early this year to assist and advice Filipino forces in fighting terrorism.
Dr Silak Lakkian, head of the hospital, has complained about how US troops meddled into their operations.
The news only broke out Saturday after local journalists learned about the incident, but US military officials were not available to make any statement.
Sulu Governor Sakur Tan said he will personally on the reports involving US troops and has talked to Major General Reuben Rafael, commander of Philippine military forces in the province, about it.
“US troops have no authority to impose on us,” he said.
It was not immediately known whether the US military tried to cover up the incident, but General Rafael, also said that he will look into the reports. “We will look into this,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
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 janitors and laborers in the province.
Heavily-armed US troops were also preventing 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.
This dark part of history always hound US troops in Sulu where activists and villagers opposed their presence in the province. It was unknown how the Panamao incident will affect the presence of Americans in Sulu. (With reports from Nickee Butlangan and Juan Magtanggol)