Philippine government gives OK for US to use old bases
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Philippine government said this week that the United States military is again welcome to use Subic Bay and the sprawling Clark Air Base, two decades after the installations were abandoned due to political friction with Manila, according to media reports.
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta said U.S. troops, ships and aircraft can make use of the old bases, as long as prior approval is granted by the government. Azcueta made the comments following a meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who traveled to the country as part of a regional trip to generate support for a military pivot toward Asia, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.
The United States had key bases in the Philippines for decades after World War II, but relations broke down in the early 1990s, and the facilities were returned.
The announcement of an expanded military relationship this week comes after months of talks between Washington and Manila, and appears to be another step forward in the U.S. plan to bolster forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
“They can come here provided they have prior coordination from the government,” Azcueta said following the meeting at the Philippine military headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo in Manila, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. “That’s what we want … increase in exercises and interoperability.” Continue reading
[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia. In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere. This article, from TIME magazine in July, explores the responses to, and embraces of, these US moves in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]
American ‘Pivot’ to Asia Divides the Philippines
Recent trouble in the South China Sea has renewed debate as to whether the U.S. is a trusted friend, or an old foe
By Catherine Traywick , TIME magazine, July 23, 2012
Bai Ali Indayla, a human-rights worker and antimilitary activist, has met just one American soldier. They convened at a picnic table inside a Philippine army camp in Mindanao in 2010 to discuss the alleged suicide of a Filipino who died under mysterious circumstances after starting a job with the U.S. military’s counterterrorism program. Indayla believed the death was suspicious, and she wanted answers, but her first and only interaction with a U.S. soldier earned her none. He was dismissive, she says, as well as arrogant and profane. After a brief and terse exchange, he walked out of the meeting without warning, and she walked away with all of her prejudices soundly affirmed.
The encounter, colored by her mistrust and his apparent indifference, reflects an enduring dynamic at play between two forces in Philippine society: the U.S. military, whose decades-long occupation of the islands eventually gave way to civil unrest, and a small but historically significant network of activists who believe the former’s presence is tantamount to neocolonialism. As China more aggressively asserts its claim over the South China Sea and the U.S. ponders a “pivot” to Asia, the gap between these groups seems to widen, calling fresh attention to the question of U.S.-Philippine ties.
The relationship between ordinary Filipinos and U.S. armed forces is a tortured one, dating back to America’s “liberation” of the Philippines from colonial Spain more than a century ago. The U.S. takeover of the Philippines in 1899 kicked off a short, bloody war, during which Filipinos were forced into reconcentrados (a type of concentration camp), massacred in their villages and subjected to a new torture technique now known as waterboarding. When the U.S. finally gave the Philippines its independence in 1945, sprawling American military bases remained — and with them, an exploding sex industry and a legacy of human-rights violations widely publicized by the national press.
A decades-long antimilitary movement culminated in the 1991 closure of American bases and the ousting of U.S. troops. Yet American forces have nevertheless maintained a limited but continuous presence in the country, where they conduct regular joint training exercises and have, in recent years, extended antiterrorism efforts. Dubbed “the second front of the war on terror” in 2002, western Mindanao has played host to 600-strong U.S. troop rotations as they pursue two al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. Though officially base-less, barracks, ports and communications infrastructure emerged within and near the Philippine military camps that host American soldiers. This year, the Aquino administration granted the U.S. Navy permission to use the former U.S. base in Subic Bay for the service of U.S. warships. Continue reading
[The US role in the Philippines, militarily, began with the US’ replacement of the Spanish as colonial master, and the defeat of Filipino independence forces. The formal colonial relationship continued for a half-century, when a comprador, neo-colonial relationship was established, with strong US controls and a string of US military bases in place. During the US war on Vietnam (as part of its strategic “encirclement of China” campaign), the US utilized the Philippines as a major staging area and base for aggression, which also brought in the period of Marcos’ martial law to ensure US control over rebellious Filipinos. In the years after the war, US strategic planning reduced the US military from full-time deployment on bases, to a recurrent “Visiting Forces” role. The US is now pressing for larger forces and a more established presence once again. With US hegemony feeling pressure from the growth of Chinese imperialist economics and power, the sharpening dispute over the Spratley Islands (between the Philippines and China–and other “China Sea” disputes involving Vietnam, Japan, and Korea) may be a flashpoint as the Philippines are once again becoming a geo-strategic pivot for regional contention. See the following 3 articles on how these forces, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, may see their role in the period ahead. — Frontlines ed.]
The PH, US Marines begin annual joint exercises
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monday, October 8th, 2012
SUBIC Bay Freeport—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) starts Monday joint exercises with soldiers of the United States (US) to strengthen their defense partnership amid continuing tensions between Manila and Beijing over the ownership of the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and other disputed islands in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
In a statement, First Lt. Cherry Tindog, director of the Philippine Marine Corps public affairs office, said the 10-day Philippines-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) 2013 would focus on humanitarian assistance, disaster response and relief preparedness, maritime security and community development.
Tindog said Phiblex was held yearly, providing joint training not only to Philippine Marines and US troops, but also the Philippine Army, Air Force and Navy.
The US helicopter carrier USS Bonhomme Richard, escorted by two frigates, arrived in this free port on Friday carrying 2,200 American troops. The ship carries amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, helicopters and Harrier fighter jets.
The USS Olympia, a submarine, docked here on Thursday, but it was not clear if it will join the exercises. The US Embassy, in a statement, said the Olympia’s visit “highlights the strong historic, community and military connections” between the US and the Philippines.
The training venues are the Subic Bay International Airport here; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Naval Station
Apolinario Jalandoon in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and the Naval Education Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales.
“[The conduct of Phiblex 2013] perpetuates a long and lasting partnership founded firmly on the common heritage between freedom-loving countries committed to true service and the preservation of liberty and democracy,” the Phiblex command said in a statement.
Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon
Local Reds vow to fight with PH forces vs Chinese aggression
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Philippine communist rebels, while embracing the ideology of Mao Zedong, will not side with China in the event the two countries’ territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) gets ugly.
Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of National Democratic Front in Mindanao, said New People’s Army rebels will fight alongside government security forces if China declared war on the Philippines.
“If there is a direct foreign invasion of our country, the focus of the revolutionary movement would be to fight the foreign aggressor,” Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, told the Inquirer in a telephone interview. Continue reading
Media groups, Filipinos protest tough cyber law
By HRVOJE HRANJSKI | Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect Wednesday despite last-minute petitions to the Supreme Court to stop it. The justices said they will take up the issue next week.
The law is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. But citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear politicians will use it to silence critics.
The law contains a provision that says libel — which is already punishable by up to six years in prison — is also a cybercrime. It doubles cumulative penalties for online offenses and allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.
Associated Press/Aaron Favila – Filipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines Continue reading
There’s an important development in the global ivory wars, stemming directly from the great National Geographic article (explored on Dot Earth recently) that focused on the demand created by the market for religious icons carved from elephant tusks. A Catholic priest, whose statements about ways to illicitly ship ivory to the United States were featured in the magazine article, is being investigated by government authorities in the Philippines. Here are the details, as reported by Floyd Whaley out of Manila for The Times:
MANILA — Philippine law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they were investigating whether a senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church was involved in the smuggling of elephant ivory to feed country’s passion for religious icons.
The investigation was prompted by an article in the October issue of National Geographic magazine that quotes Msgr. Cristóbal Garcia, a senior church official on the central Philippine island of Cebu, as telling an American reporter how to smuggle illegal elephant ivory figurines into the United States. “Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it,” he is quoted as saying, to deter inspection. Continue reading
[This article from Ang Bayan by the Communist Party of the Philippines, takes a look at the current Aquino regime’s cultivation of petty-bourgeois illusions (of progress and reform) and support for the Philippines’ comprador relations with the US. It argues that only through breaking with the US can corruption be ended, and can progress and reform take place. The article does not speak to the Philippines’ relations (today and in the future) with other imperialists who wait in the wings, nor to whether the democratic struggle it promotes is linked to socialist revolution–and if so, if this is a distant prospect or one that is more contemporary. In a period when some parties internationally have de-linked the democratic struggle from socialist revolution, this question deserves the attention of revolutionaries everywhere. — Frontlines ed.]
Editorial, Ang Bayan, August 07, 2012
Under the guidance of its imperialist master, the Aquino regime is relentlessly conjuring the illusion of the “righteous road” and has been pouring in funds, lavishing attention and providing personnel to deceptive showcase projects.
This is an indication of the depths of the crisis of the ruling system. The regime wants to deceive the people, create false hopes of a better life and nip in the bud their determination to put an end to the rotten exploitative system.
These programs are particularly aimed at winning over the middle sectors of society, including the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie, using the framework of “good governance.”
It is crucial for the ruling classes to “gain the trust” of the petty bourgeoisie to maintain the stability of the ruling system. The petty bourgeoisie are forcibly isolated from the movements of the toiling masses and distanced from the path of revolutionary change. They are inundated by glittering propaganda and enticed through idealist slogans that are attuned to their dreams of making it big even as they partake of “concrete changes” as individuals, without disturbing the current order of things and abandoning their personal dreams.
Schools, the mass media and the internet are awash with the Aquino regime’s propaganda and programs to hoodwink and seduce the petty bourgeoisie. Their closest partners in this sinister endeavor to mobilize the petty bourgeoisie for attention-grabbing but limited housing, education and health programs are agencies appendaged to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Continue reading