The presence of US troops exemplifies and strengthens US domination of the Philippines. When the Philippines was named as “the coordinating country” of the US in its dealings with the Asean, it meant that Manila could be counted on to promote US interests not only in the country but in the whole region. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo crowed about this, but it was not a recognition of her accomplishments and capabilities — it was an acknowledgment of her servitude and puppetry to Imperial America.
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — Recent revelations regarding the presence and activities of US troops in the country have confirmed what progressive groups have been saying all along: that US Special Forces soldiers have established a permanent presence in the county. They have even built permanent structures to support their operations and have engaged in actual combat operations.
First to confirm it is the Aug. 20, 2009, article in The New York Times. In the article, the paper reported that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided “to keep an elite 600-troop counterinsurgency operation deployed in the Philippines despite pressure to reassign its members to fulfill urgent needs elsewhere…” But what is disturbing is the boast by senior Pentagon officials that US troops stationed here, working in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency, were instrumental in the successes of Filipino troops in “killing and capturing” leaders of Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Col. Bill Coultrup, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, had even clarified that the mission of Special Operations units in the Philippines is “only 20 percent combat-related.”
Second is the revelation of Navy Lt. Nancy Gadian. Gadian said in her affidavit that her fellow soldiers revealed to her “that US troops are embedded in Philippine troops who are engaged in actual combat in Mindanao.” This means that not only are US Special Forces soldiers providing intelligence information regarding the location of Abu Sayyaf or MILF forces, they are involved in actual combat.
This explains the sightings of US troops in war zones. It also explains why in July 2001, farmer Ijmail Buyong-buyong was shot by an American soldier. In November 2007, US Sgt. Ron Berg reportedly commanded the staff of a municipal hospital in Panamao, Sulu, to close after sundown. On Feb. 4, 2008, four US soldiers were seen in the company of AFP troops in an assault operation where eight civilians, including a pregnant woman and two children, were killed.
Gadian also revealed that US troops have built permanent structures inside the camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: in Camp Basilio Navarro, headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command, and Edwin Andrews Airbase. In addition are temporary structures at Camp Malagutay in Zamboanga City, the training camp of the Philippine Army; the Philippine Naval Station in Batu-Bato, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi; the Naval Forces Wesmincom in Lower Calarian in Camp Navarro; and Camp General Bautista in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.
She exposed the presence of advanced satellite communication equipment in one of the camps, the heavy traffic of American aircraft and helicopters at the airbase, and the docking of American warships within an “exclusive economic zone.”
Gadian concluded — confirming what many progressive organizations have said — that US troops have been here 365 days a year and seem to have no plans of leaving.
People may ask, what is wrong with this especially if they have been helping eradicate the Abu Sayyaf and have been building schools and other infrastructure?