Demonstrators calling for U.S. troops to withdraw from the Philippines protested th start of joint militay operations in which thousands of Ameican troops work with Filipino soldiers in the southern region of the country in order to deal with Muslim insurgent groups. The two week drills — shoulder to shoulder” bring together 6,000 American and 2,000 Filipino troops who are battling militants from the Abu Sayyaf and its allies. Rallies against the Americans were held all over the Philippines but they constituted only a few hundred people engaged in protests. It is against Philippine law for troops from foreign nations to participate in military action on their soil. The American troops are restricted to humanitarian efforts such as medical activities or working on construction of schools. Some villagers claim they witnessed Americans engaged in military action, but this is strongly denied by both US and Filipino sources.
America most probably employs a “soft approach” in the Philippines in dealing with militants but there mere presence is used to stir up anger. One can only wonder why the United States does not have civilians engage in these peaceful acitivities and remove the entire issue of military engagement.