United States President George W. Bush has expanded the “war against terrorism” beyond Afghanistan. The US has opened a new war front in the Philippines and has threatened Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and many more. The momentum of the so-called borderless war is being sustained even if its targets has little or no connections with the al-Qaida.
A former US colony, the Philippines has a population of over 80 million, mostly impoverished peasants and workers. Three major islands Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao comprise the Philippine archipelago.Filipino Muslims (Moro) and other national minorities make up about twelve percent of the populace.
Six hundred and sixty US soldiers are now involved in military operations focusing on Mindanao. The official line is that the US forces are there to train Filipino soldiers in counter-terrorism, specifically to crush the Abu Sayyaf, a small bandit group of about 80 men based in the small island of Basilan.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has uncritically embraced and committed all-out support to the US-led “war against terrorism”, including the deployment of US forces into the country.
The six-month joint US-RP training exercises dubbed Balikatan 02-1 (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) is supposed to end by July 31, 2002. But this early, top US and Philippine officials are setting the stage for the indefinite stay of more US troops and the expansion of US armed involvement beyond Basilan and its original target, the Abu Sayyaf.
Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes is on record as saying that the next target of US-RP operations is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as well as the New People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Both Philippine and US governments have tagged the NPA and MILF “terrorists.”
Some 2,700 US troops are arriving in April in Central Luzon purportedly for another set of joint military exercises. But unlike in Mindanao there is no armed Moro or Muslim group based in Luzon. There is, however a resurgent revolutionary movement which has mass bases in Luzon and in almost all major provinces. The CPP/NPA/NDF is waging war against US imperialism and the local ruling elite.
Opposition to the renewed presence of US forces in the Philippines is growing. In 1991, the US military bases were booted out from the country as a result of massive people’s protests. Critics point out that the Balikatan war games are not mere military exercises but a prelude to prolonged if not permanent US armed intervention in the country’s internal affairs. They are undeniably an affront to Philippine national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the people’s right to self-determination.
Anxiety is high over potential “collateral damage” to civilian communities and the environment, violations of human rights, abuse of women and children and various adverse socio-economic effects. Even the fate of the peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF and the MILF now hangs in the balance. Moreover, the Philippines might become the staging ground for US aggression against other countries.
Concept paper by Bayan in preparation of an International Solidarity Mission. Copyright © Bayan 2002. For fair use only
The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BAY205A.html
CRG's Global Outlook, premiere issue on "Stop the War" provides detailed documentation on the war and the September 11
Order/subscribe. Consult Table of Contents