Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

U.S. humanitarian mission halted by gunfire

A U.S. helicopter on a humanitarian mission in the Philippines apparently was shot at, prompting the Navy to temporarily halt the mission, a defense official said Monday.

An MH-60 helicopter operating from USNS Mercy hospital ship had gone to pick up 11 passengers about 50 miles inland, and two bullet holes were found when the aircraft returned to the ship with the passengers.

"The holes appear to be an entry and exit point from a single bullet," said Cmdr. Jeff A. Davis, a Navy spokesman.

It is unclear if the bullet struck while the passengers were on the helicopter, he said. There were no injuries and the aircraft's commander was unaware of any bullet striking the aircraft during the flight, Davis said.

The Mercy is anchored in Cotabatu, conducting Pacific Partnership 08, a humanitarian civic assistance mission between nations — and with non-governmental organizations — to provide medical, dental, construction and other services ashore and afloat.

"The USNS Mercy mission commander has ceased all Mercy Pacific Partnership activities until a proper assessment can be made," Davis said in an e-mail.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, but several armed groups operate in the area, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, communist New People's Army rebels, private armies and criminal gangs.

Eid Kabalu, spokesman for the Moro Islamic organization, the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group, condemned the attack.

"This is a humanitarian mission so we are fully supportive of it," said Kabalu. "Anything to hamper humanitarian action is condemnable." (Source: Email)

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