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Background: The Philippines were ceded by Spain to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. They attained their independence in 1946 after being occupied by the Japanese in World War II. The 21-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986 when a widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile. In 1992, the US closed down its last military bases on the islands. A quarter-century-old guerrilla war with Muslim separatists on the island of Mindanao, which had claimed 120,000 lives, ended with a treaty in 1996.

However, there still remains some pocket rebellions with fragmented rebel groups, particularly some communist groups operating in the mountains of Luzon and the Visayas, and a smattering of Muslim fighters who do not recognize the 1996 peace treaty. Likewise, there seems to be a disturbing rise in the terroristic activities of Islamic-fundamentalist groups collectively fighting under the Abu Sayyaf banner.