Tuesday, November 03, 2009

US troops, communist rebels clashed in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 3, 2009) – Communist rebels accused US troops of engaging in combat operation in the southern Philippines, where security forces are battling New People's Army which has been waging a seccessionist war for decades in the volatile region.

Jorge Madlos, a senior leader of the New People’s Army, said US forces have joined Filipino troops in offensive operations in Bukidnon province in northern Mindanao. He did not say if there were casualties in the fighting.

US troops have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2001 and since then had built forward bases in the provinces under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. American troops are also deployed in the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, all in the Muslim autonomous region, where they are aiding local soldiers in defeating the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group which is also tied with the Jemaah Islamiya.

Two US soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Sulu in September.

Madlos said the National Democratic Front in Mindanao has received more information regarding the actual participation of US soldiers in combat operations in the region.

“This time, the operations are not just in Basilan and Sulu, but in other areas of the island as well. According to confirmed reports, US military personnel have been playing an active role in combat operations against the NPA in the hinterlands of Bukidnon,” he said.

He said US soldiers have participated in at least four combat operations and clashed with NPA rebels in Bukidnon province since early this year.

“Around mid-February and in early July, US soldiers were seen participating in combat operations in (the town of) Quezon, Bukidnon. These troops, together with a unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, engaged an NPA unit in a firefight and committed fascist acts against the residents in the area. In April and again in September, US troops were also sighted with AFP soldiers in Valencia and Malaybalay (towns, also in Bukidnon) asking local residents for possible NPA locations and even intimidating civilians in the area,” Madlos said.

Madlos said they also received reports that US troops were also operating in South Cotabato in central Mindanao and the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental, where communist rebels are active.

“The NDF-Mindanao calls on the Filipino people to wage an all-out, renewed, aggressive and sustained campaign against continuing US military intervention in the country. We also urge the American people to demand the pullout of American troops permanently stationed in the Philippines and the cessation of US military interventionism in the country. We call on our Filipino compatriots in the US and other countries to help heighten public awareness in their host countries and internationally about US military intervention in the Philippines,” Madlos said.

He said rebels have been ordered to wage an all-out war against US troops deployed in the southern Philippines.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon would continue to involve itself in the "counter-insurgency" war in the Philippines. Gates said that some 600 US counter-terrorism troops will remain in the southern Philippines.

“US imperialism has become ever more arrogant and overbearing in asserting its imperial power over the Philippines. It is trampling on Philippine sovereignty with utter impunity emboldened by the outright puppetry and servility of the Arroyo government,” Madlos said.

He said the US military has established its permanent presence in the Philippines through the auspices of the Visiting Forces Agreement. He said US troops are engaged in electronic and satellite surveillance as well as provide battlefield logistical support to the Philippine military.

The US military has denied it is involved in combat in the southern Philippines, but there were many reports about its clandestine intelligence operations and the crashes of unmanned aerial vehicles in areas where communist and Muslim rebels are actively operating. (Mindanao Examiner)

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