Marcos and Arroyo: Hounded by Rights Abuses

BT: Aside from journalists many more people on a bigger scale have become victims of extra-judicial killings: Today, the number has reached 837 victims. This excludes victims of enforced disappearances, victims of torture, and also tens and thousands of other Filipino civilians who have suffered the brunt of counter-insurgency operations especially in the rural countryside. Alarming of course is the culture of impunity in these killings and this can be traced to the general amnesty decreed by Corazon Aquino after Marcos’ ouster giving perpetrators of human rights abuses immunity from prosecution. Coupled with the collapse of the justice system and the executive policy of promoting violators of human rights, the amnesty has practically given today’s summary executioners, abductors, and their commanders the licence to commit human rights violations at will. Under Mrs. Arroyo, the spate of killings has been taking place in the context of the counter-insurgency program which is an adjunct to the so-called war against terrorism. Records show that an increase in U.S. military assistance produces a corresponding increase in the number of human rights violations. During the Marcos dictatorship, the unprecedented amount of military assistance given to the government went to the persecution of people and mounting human rights violations. This is what is happening also under Arroyo.

RW: In other words, do you see a direct link between the 9/11 events in the U.S. and the ongoing counter-insurgency in the Philippines?

BT: Well, yes, just moments after 9/11, Mrs. Arroyo immediately supported George Bush’s declaration of total war against Afghanistan and later against the so-called axis of evil. She offered the use of Philippine territory for the U.S. borderless war including the entry of American forces in the guise of anti-terrorism training operations, intelligence, logistical support, and other objectives. For this support, the U.S. president pledged an increase in military assistance as well as financial and political support to Mrs. Arroyo.

RW: What is the significance of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and similar other agreements in relation to the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines?

BT: The war against terrorism launched by Mr. George W. Bush, Jr. and the support extended by Arroyo in opening the Philippines as the second front of the war activated the VFA, an agreement that was signed secretly in 1998 as a bilateral executive agreement and then ratified by the Philippine Senate as a treaty in May 1999. The VFA provides for the entry of U.S. security forces under the guise of war exercises, opens the Philippine territory to logistical and other war-related equipment thus making such operations a clear example of a “temporary and permanent basing facility” in support of the U.S. centers of military projection in East Asia and beyond. One of its worst implications is that under the VFA the Philippines surrenders its sovereign right to subject erring foreign forces under the country’s criminal jurisdiction. Aside from allowing the entry of American forces into the country where they can exercise extra-territorial rights, the VFA violates the constitutional principle which renounces war as an instrument of foreign policy.

The MLSA (Mutual Logistics Support Agreement) allows the entry of forces and also facilities and other logistic support at any point in the Philippines. In the guise of fighting terrorism and under the cover provided by the VFA, one cannot deter the U.S. from even deploying nuclear missiles and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction.

RW: Why do you think the U.S., a former colonial master, wants to stay in the Philippines more than 50 years after its independence from American colonial subjugation?

BT: The U.S. has been in the Philippines for over a century. It colonized the Philippines in 1899 and launched a brutal pacification campaign against the Philippine revolutionaries who had just ended three-century-long Spanish colonial rule through a revolution. That pacification campaign, by the way, led to the genocide of a minimum of 500,000 Filipinos to a maximum of 1.5 million. Since then, the Philippines has been not only a colonial or a neo-colonial outpost of the U.S. but also primarily a military outpost in the present world. In the light of the war against terrorism, the Philippines has become again a vital military outpost for the U.S. with its forces operating in the southern islands and elsewhere. Their operations serve to bolster U.S. military presence in East Asia and Oceania. Coincidentally, U.S. security policy makes the Philippines as an important military outpost in the so-called containment strategy of the U.S. to encircle China. U.S. forces in the Philippines are also trained for future deployment in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war-torn countries. This makes the Philippines virtually at war with many countries at the risk of inviting retaliatory actions by forces who have become targets of U.S. aggression and pre-emptive operations.

Share This Post