U.S.-Philippine Military Operations "Shifting Focus"

August 27, 2002

On August 6, the chief of the Philippine Armed Forces, General Roy Cimatu, stated that the focus of military activity was "shifting from confronting the Abu Sayyaf group in the south" to "targeting the growing threat from communist guerrillas."

Three days later, on August 9, the U.S. government also officially designated the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a "terrorist organization," thus making it unlawful for U.S. citizens to provide it with support or financial resources. Under the new designation, CPP members are also barred from entering the United States and can be deported. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made the recommendation less than a week after returning from a tour of Southeast Asia, which included a stop in Manila.

Several thousand U.S. troops have been engaged in continuous joint military "exercises" with Filipino troops since April, and military officials have already announced that another round of joint operations will begin in October. Since January, the Bush administration has sent some $100 million and thousands of troops to train and equip Filipino army units. These U.S. troops have already been involved in several combat operations inside the country.