In her revelations of the violations committed by US troops while on Philippine soil, former Navy officer Nancy Gadian also affirmed what has always been the core of US expansionism: using its military power to exploit the wealth and resources of another country. This was the core strategy in practically all the wars America had fought. Its so-called “war on terror” in the Philippines is no exception.
By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
MANILA – When former Navy Lt. Senior Grade Mary Nancy Gadian gave a press conference in Quezon City on Wednesday to expose the wrongdoings of US troops stationed in the Philippines, she mentioned, among other things, the economic agenda behind America’ continued presence in the country.
“The US is after the natural resources of the Philippines,” she said, adding that the Philippines has a “strategic location” in relation to the rest of Southeast Asia.
Gadian only affirmed what has always been the core of US expansionism: using its military power to exploit the wealth and resources of another country. This was the core strategy in practically all the wars America had fought — from Iraq to Afghanistan to the Philippines, where it had maintained military bases.
When these Philippine bases were removed by the people’s will in 1991, it did not signify the end of US military intervention in the Philippines. After the attacks in the US on Sept. 11, Washington found a convenient justification for sending its troops here – the so-called war on terror.
The US forces started trickling in since 2002 and have never left. As Gadian revealed during her press briefing, the Americans have put up their own facilities and structures in Mindanao, their unhampered access and presence allowing them not only to actively participate in a local conflict, in violation of the Constitution, but also to pursue what Gadian called “economic surveillance.”
Gadian is the same Navy officer who, last May, exposed the alleged malversation of P46 million for the US-Philippines Balikatan military exercises in 2007. Her latest exposé came days after The New York Times reported on the announcement of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a 600-member elite force of US troops deployed in the Philippines – particularly in Mindanao – since 2002 are here to stay.
These troops, who are stationed in what Gadian described as “permanent structures,” comprise the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), which was established by the US Special Operations Command Pacific (Socpac). It began its work when Socpac’s Joint Task Force (JTF) 510 deployed to the Philippines. Based on an item on GlobalSecurity.org, JTF 510 was deployed to the Philippines “to support Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name given to the US government’s military response to the Sept. 11 attacks. It entails a series of “anti-terrorism” activities in Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, Trans-Sahara, and Pakinsi Gorge.
Based on a fact sheet posted on its website, the JSOTF-P maintains its headquarters within the AFP’s Camp Navarro, which is located in Zamboanga City. It also has three regional task forces throughout Mindanao, working with the AFP: Task Force Archipelago, also based at Camp Navarro; Task Force Mindanao, based at Camp Sionco, Maguindanao; and Task Force Sulu, based at Camp Bautista, Jolo Island, Sulu. A number of JSOTF-P personnel also work in Manila, coordinating activities with the US Embassy and the AFP General Headquarters.
Aside from these facilities, according to Gadian, the JSOTF-P also maintains an office at Edwin Andrews Air Base, which is also located in Zamboanga City, as well as facilities in Camp Malagutay, Zamboanga City; the Philippine Naval Station in Batu-Bato, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi; and Camp General Bautista in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.