Since February 2002, an undetermined number of
Special Operations Forces have been stationed in Sulu in the southern
Considered as the elite unit of the US military specializing in covert
missions, the US troops roam around a small war-ravaged island
considered the stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front and the
Abu Sayyaf Group. Barred by the Philippine constitution from engaging
in "actual combat," these soldiers claim that they are involved only in
training exercises and humanitarian projects. But this is not what the
people there are saying. What are the US troops really doing in Sulu?
Will their actions finally put an end to "terrorism" in the country?

his video-report contextualizes the issue of US
military presence in the country within the long and bitter history of
conflict in the south. Countering the reductionist frame set by the
narrative of the "global war against terror," it examines the
historical conditions that led to the emergence of the Moro separatist
movement and the subsequent rise of the Abu Sayyaf. It dissects the
government´s contradictory attempts to downplay its threat while at the
same time justifying escalating military operations in the region.

Against this backdrop, the report then probes allegations of US
military involvement in the war. Contradicting US and Philippine
officials´ oft-repeated claim that the US troops are never involved in
combat, it zooms in on one particular operation in which US troops were
said to have joined Filipino soldiers in their offensives against the
MNLF. Challenging the governments´ attempts to narrow down the
definition of "actual combat," the report goes on to ask larger
questions about the foundations of the Philippines´ deeply entrenched
military and political alliance with the United States and its response
to the Moro´s continuing demand for self-determination. 
In the process, the report is referred back by the interviewees to an episode in the past that may hold answers for the present.

This video-report accompanies a printed report on the US military on
Sulu available for download from

(Produced by Focus on the Global South)


* 10 February 2007, 1:00 PM
Sulu State College
Jolo, Sulu

* 16 February 2007, 2:30 to 5:00 PM
Bulwagang Recto, Faculty Center
College of Arts and Letters, UP Diliman
Sponsored by: Stop the War Coalition, Focus on the Global South, UP ALYANSA


To order free copies of the DVD, write to [email protected] or call 
+63 2 433 0899.