The Guardian March 6, 2002


US expanding war to Philippines

by Joel Wendland

Late last month another contingent of the expected 660 US soldiers arrived 
in the Philippines. Their arrival was greeted by an explosion that killed 
five Filipino civilians.

Being called "the biggest expansion of Washington's war" since the attacks 
on Afghanistan, this deployment is supposed to aid the Philippine 
Government in capturing the Abu Sayyaf Group, a splinter terrorist group 
known for kidnappings and decapitations.

According to reports, Abu Sayyaf received much of its "terror training" 
during the US-backed war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.

Working-class and people's movements in the Philippines have declared this 
military manoeuvre illegal and against the constitution. They also charged 
the Arroyo Government with "seeking US help to solve a domestic problem".

UP Rage Against US Aggression (UP RAGE), a University of the Philippines 
coalition of students, faculty and community activists, charged that 
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government deliberately undermined the 
independence of the Philippines by authorising US military presence.

They accused her of trying to frame all of her political opponents, 
especially those who oppose US military intervention, as supporters of 
terrorists.

In a February statement UP RAGE said that "the choice ... is not between US 
military support and the Abu Sayyaf. One only needs to look at the past to 
realise that both have wreaked havoc on the people's lives and livelihood".

A recent "New York Times" opinion piece by Nicholas D Kristof pointed to 
evidence of atrocities conducted by the Philippine army during internal 
operations against suspected opponents of the government.

Kristof argues that the United States ought to have "misgivings" about 
"siding with murderers and torturers in a way that dishonours our larger 
Purposes".

What is clear, in the view of many Filipino activists, is that the 
convergence of US military forces, the Philippine Army and terrorist 
factions will likely result in enormous bloodshed, but the violence will 
target primarily civilian populations, create a refugee crisis, and 
destabilise the government. None of this, they say, will lead to victory 
against terrorism.

Further, the Moro National Liberation Front, which has successfully won 
internationally recognised autonomy status for Muslims in the Moro region 
of the Southern Philippines, has refused to accept incursions against its 
autonomy by US- or Philippine-led military actions.

This autonomy was ultimately granted after years of violent attacks by the 
Marcos dictatorship against the Moro people.

Arroyo, who ascended to the presidency in 2000 after mass demonstrations 
and protests against corruption and influence-peddling forced President 
Jose "Erap" Estrada resignation, has since promised closer ties to the US.

For her opponents, this kind of relationship with the US has meant military 
occupation, loss of national sovereignty, economic subordination to US 
corporate interests, and violent conflict.

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People's Weekly World paper of Communist Party, USA

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