April 16, 2012
Filipino-American Alliance Calls Aquino Gov’t to Junk the VFA, Stop Balikatan Exercises
As today marks the formal opening of the 28th US-Philippine Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) Exercises in Palawan, Filipino-Americans across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA, are joined by their American allies in condemning intensifying US military intervention in the Philippines as the greatest threat to peace and security in the country and the Asia-Pacific region.
US is the Real Bully
Contrary to Washington’s line, the Chinese government is not flexing its military might to bully other countries in the region in order to expand its economic interests. It is the US government that fits said description, as US military’s so-called “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region” is motivated by the Obama administration campaign to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new free trade agreement akin to NAFTA that would ensure US economic and political domination in the region, as well as contain super rival China’s emerging economic power and growth.
Decades of US military presence in the Philippines in the name of peace-keeping and anti-terrorism have proven that it is the US troops, not China, that are guilty of pointing their own guns at Filipino civilians, raping Filipino women and children, patronizing and encouraging sex tours and increased prostitution, polluting and destroying the environment, requiring the massive displacement of rural communities in order to accommodate their military operations, advising and training the same Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) documented and denounced by international human rights organizations as perpetrating gross human rights abuses in the country, not to the least of which is the blatant violation and disrespect to Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under Obama, the Philippines is now being used as testing grounds for US drone air strikes, in line with its historical role as a strategic launching pad and fueling station for US military offensives in nearly all of its wars of aggression. The US is also hyping up anti-China sentiment in the region by intervening in regional territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, of which China is a stakeholder, clearly aimed at provoking military aggression with the Philippines at the crosshairs.
Hearts and Minds Campaign
Characteristic of this year’s Balikatan Exercises is the so-called focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR), including a Civil-Military Operations (CMO) component that started in March 12 with an engineering program to construct schools and facilities in the most marginalized areas of Palawan. Reminiscent of the same tactics used by the US military campaign to “win the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and gather popular support for direct US military intervention during the Vietnam War, the HA/DR focus of the Balikatan Exercises is actually in line with the 2009 US State Department’s Counter-Insurgency (US COIN) Guide. The said US COIN guide purports the need for a population-centric approach, or low-intensity conflict (LIC), wherein “the margin of victory will be measured in far different terms than the wars of our past. The allegiance, trust, and confidence of populations will be the final arbiters” as stated by US Army General William B. Caldwell IV in the US Army Field Manual on population-centric COIN.
With a strong Philippine movement for sovereignty and democracy gaining ground, including an armed revolutionary movement popular with the country’s poor and explicit in its aim to fundamentally change the current failing system in favor of a self-sufficient system implementing genuine land reform and national industrialization, the US government is driven to apply LIC tactics to win support away from the cause national liberation and keep the Philippines as its most reliable hub for power projection in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The US government, and its ruling financial oligarchy, is also driven to maintain the Philippines as a valuable export position for vast natural resources and cheap human labor power in the midst of a worsening global economic crisis it is grappling, but failing, to overcome.
NoyNoy’s Bankruptcy Exposed
The US-Aquino regime is becoming increasingly isolated as its promise of change is exposing itself as bankrupt through Aquino’s inaction and “NoyNoying” over crucial domestic matters of public interest requiring attention. At the same time Aquino unflinchingly steps to the plate to bat for Uncle Sam’s quest to rattle his saber in the region under the deceptive line of defending the region against China.
It is obvious that Aquino is desperate to keep enjoying the spoils of US puppetry by continuing US-funded state repression against civilians who criticize his policies and championing the US government’s initial steps toward direct US military intervention in the country in the face of a raging civil war between those wanting to maintain the status quo, and those wanting to change the system and build a brighter future.
It is in this regard that BAYAN USA calls on all in the US who are burdened by the effects of the economic crisis to hold the Obama administration accountable for its maneuvers to invest billions in beefing up it military presence in the Asia-Pacific region through expanding its network of military bases, facilities, operations, and agreements in the region when it could be investing in jobs, education, healthcare, housing, and social services for the American people. We call on all who are against US wars of aggression to demand the Obama administration withdraw its military presence in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region. We call on all in the US who have been victimized by US counter-insurgency, including COINTELPRO, and the onslaught of repressive legislation criminalizing dissent and curtailing democratic rights to condemn US counter-insurgency in the Philippines, home to the world’s longest-running armed revolution against US imperialism. Lastly, we call on all who are for freedom to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine national sovereignty and democracy, a mass movement so widespread and historical in its challenge to US imperialist power projection in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES
JUNK THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
STOP THE BALIKATAN EXERCISES
UPHOLD PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
BAYAN–USA is an alliance of 15 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN–USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org