Tell That to the Marines

Truth #2: The Abu Sayyaf is still in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao and the Philippines. And so are the U.S. Special Forces! The Abu Sayyaf, as well as so-called “lost commands” of the MILF & Moro
National Liberation Front, are to the Philippine government/Arroyo regime as Al Qaeda is to the U.S. government/Bush regime — a convenient excuse for military presence and activity in certain sensitive areas, but ultimately a source of embarrassment not only because they appear impervious to all-out military and police operations but also because of their revealing histories.

The ASG was a creation of the Philippine military and police and, like Al Qaeda, was trained and used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Like the Al Qaeda, it is anybody’s guess whether Abu Sayyaf had gone “out of control” of their creators, or the latter are not in fact still their handlers.

U.S. troops have not left the Philippines since Balikatan 02-1 wrapped up in mid-July 2002. Aside from a continuing series of joint military exercises not only in Mindanao but in the Visayas and Luzon as well, U.S. forces have remained under various pretexts such as “humanitarian operations/missions”– road-building and other public works, disaster relief and rescue, medical missions, etc., all in continuing violation of the Philippine Constitution.

Truth #3: Government troops are poised to launch a massive assault in Basilan and other parts of Western Mindanao under the guise of conducting “police operations” to arrest the perpetrators of the beheading/mutilation of the dead Marines.

The Arroyo administration has gone to great lengths to make it appear that the beheadings are a “police problem”, obscuring the fact that they are a bi-product of an armed encounter with the MILF. But backing up this “police operation” in a remote Basilan barangay with over 5,000 troops, betrays the fact that this is a massive military campaign with still undisclosed military objectives.

Even now, with several postponements and only a few skirmishes, the lives and livelihood of more than 4,000 Basilan residents have been disrupted with the threatened destruction of their meager belongings and sources of livelihood as well being caught in the crossfire or of being mistaken for “terrorists” themselves.

Truth #4: Despite repeated government announcements that formal peace talks between GRP and MILF are about to resume and a peace agreement is in the offing, prospects for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao are no better now than when armed hostilities flared up decades ago.

Two peace agreements with the MNLF — the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Accord — have evidently failed to bring peace to Mindanao and uplift the lives of the Moro people. This is because the root cause of the Moro problem — recognition of and upholding their right to self determination, including their right to their lost ancestral lands — has not been addressed. The Arroyo regime has instead been engaged in a game of cooptation utilizing economic aid from the U.S., Japan, the European Union and
others combined with the threat of “terrorist” labeling by the U.S. and. Philippine governments with all the dire consequences that entails.

Truth #5: The AFP continues to throw its troops into battle with defective arms, ammunition and equipment and is saddled with bungled operations. The AFP has not explained why the Marines ventured into MILF territory without informing the MILF in accordance with a standing ceasefire agreement. Recall
also the Lamitan, Basilan hospital incident where the Abu Sayyaf inexplicably managed to slip out of a supposedly tight AFP cordon with even some of their hostages in tow.

Periodic debacles such as the Tipo-tipo battle revive and give credence to charges of deeply entrenched corruption in high places in both the AFP and Defense Department.

Worse, Mrs. Arroyo and her generals are covering up for their bungling and criminal disregard for the safety and well-being of foot soldiers and the civilian population, by utilizing anti-Muslim chauvinism and warmongering and pretending to render justice for the senselessly slain Marines in order to carry out its military campaigns. Business World/Posted

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