Press Release
March 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he is pleased that the American troops have pulled out of Sulu after completing the Balikatan exercises without figuring in any untoward incident.

As part of the one-month humanitarian mission in Sulu, the Americans conducted medical missions, brought medicines, books and computers and built schoolhouses for the benefit of the local residents.

If the American troops involved in the Balikatan exercises did what they said they did and if the people in Sulu really appreciated what they did, then it may be safe to say that their presence there was not meant to aggravate the law and order situation but to promote peace, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

The minority leader had earlier warned the American soldiers against joining Filipino combat soldiers in military operations against terrorists or insurgents in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao. Otherwise, he said the peace negotiations between the government and Moro rebels would be jeopardized.

Pimentel said he has always held the view that if the Americans want to maintain a presence in the country, it should be for peaceful purposes, not for warlike intention.

He also praised the large contingent of American soldiers who were diverted from the Balikatan exercises to rescue hundreds of villagers who were trapped by the landslide in St. Bernard town, in Southern Leyte.

Pimentel said the noteworthy humanitarian acts of the US soldiers were in stark contrast to the cruel and deadly mission of some 800 American colonial troops who were sent to Sulu 100 years ago to subjugate the Tausugs.

Using rifles, grenades and cannons, the American troops killed about 1,000 defiant Tausug men, women and children who were armed only with kris, spears and some rifles during the one-sided battle in Bud Dajo, an extinct volcano about 2,100 feet high and some 10 kilometers from Jolo.

Pimentel said it is a good thing that the American troops who took part in the Balikatan exercises were sensitive enough not to revive with their presence the hurts in the hearts of Moro residents of Sulu who are descendants of those who were killed in the Battle of Bud Dajo on March 5-6, 1906.

It is a good thing that the American troops did not rub the Moros of Sulu the wrong way by staying on in Sulu today because they would have been reminded that 100 years ago, they rubbed out their ancestors at Bud Dajo, he said.

Pimentel said that as the lone senator from Mindanao, he could not help but make the observation that the people of Mindanao do not need soldiers from any foreign land to make war in the southern island.

We are tired of war. We want law and order. We want peace, he said.

He said the Mindanaonons want development, roads, bridges, water systems, electricity, schools, hospitals, houses for the poor and jobs.

Pimentel said they are also advocating the federal system of government so that they will have a just share of the wealth and power of the nation.

News Latest News Feed