August 4, 2010
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FIL-AMS TO P-NOY, OBAMA: STOP MAKING THE PHILIPPINES A US MILITARY PLAYGROUND! NO TO U.S. MISSILE OFFER!
The recent announcement of the US Congress’ plans to provide an $18.4 million-worth package of US precision-guided missiles to the Philippine military alarmingly propels the new Aquino administration onto the failed path paved by the Arroyo administration. Though Aquino benefits from his public criticisms of graft and corruption under Arroyo, his fledgling presidency seems conditioned to ensure that the costly and ineffective so-called “War on Terror” remains alive and kicking in the Philippines.
To classify the “War on Terror”, as launched by the Bush-Arroyo tandem, as a failure would be a gross misnomer. The cost in innocent human lives, trillions in public funds, public morale, ethics, and humanity that has been spent by both the US and Filipino people makes it downright unconscionable for Aquino to consider accepting the deadly US missile offer or maintaining US military presence in the Philippines through the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty.
The US government has no genuine intention to fight terrorism or to help the Filipino people. By using the pretext of counter-terrorism to maintain a hyper-funded, hyper-facilitated US military state in the Philippines, the US government can continue to maintain the Philippines into as a geopolitically strategic military outpost. It can continue to exert its dominance over the domestic affairs of the Filipino people through a US-funded death squad democracy. This has been the intention of the US government since its launched its first war of aggression to colonize the Philippines back in 1899.
In the nine years the Bush administration funded and deployed US troops to “advise” the Philippine military’s so-called efforts to defeat the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah, the Filipino people have reaped no significant benefits nor sense of national security. Instead, they have been subjected to Arroyo’s vicious counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) that has brought about the politically-motivated killings and disappearances of over 1100 innocent civilians, international scrutiny against the Philippine government for its poor human rights record, as well as the cooptation of the Philippine judicial system’s duty to convict and punish US military personnel that rape Filipinos, young and old, or break Philippine laws. The recent case of Gregan Cardeno, a Filipino who worked as an interpreter for US Special Forces in Mindanao, begs the investigation of what looks like the cover-up of a summary execution and torture at the hands of US military personnel.
With nothing positive gained from nine years US and Philippine joint military exercises in the country, Philippines egregiously remains among the world’s largest beneficiaries of US military aid.
Both the US and Filipino people must challenge Obama and Aquino to implement a foreign policy that is mutually beneficially to both countries rather than the one-sided, master-and-servant, killer-and-victim character of the past 100 years of US-Philippine relations that is safeguarded by US military intervention in the country.
Though he catapulted to the top political decision-making seat of the country with a big push from his family name, inherited fortune, lipservice against his predecessor, and the sweet-sounding rhetoric of change, Aquino has yet to prove that he will not follow in Arroyo’s footsteps where it counts most by implementing real meaningful change that will improve the quality of life in the country. Inextricable to this is the withdrawal of US military presence in the country.
We must let both Aquino and Obama know that we holding them both to this challenge.