Philippines: February 12, 2002

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US troops are beginning six months of anti-terrorist and training operations with Filipino forces. At the end of the exercises, the training will move to Basilan island. On Basilan island, it is feared that this will cause local MILF and MNLF rebels may join the Abu Sayyaf in resisting the use of US soldiers. Basilan is about the size of Los Angeles, but mostly mountains and jungle. Among the island's 330,000 people are about 300 Abu Sayyaf, 500 MNLF (the rebel outfit that has made peace with the government and expelled the Abu Sayyaf for banditry) and 1000 MILF (which is supposed to have a cease fire agreement with the government.) Most of the MNLF surrendered their weapons, but not all. A third of the island's population is Christian (and more pro-government.)  

 

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