US Role in Philippine Counterinsurgency Operations

This is where the concepts of “target research”, “sectoral front organizations”, and “intelligence task allocations” contained in Oplan Bantay Laya were derived.

Under the US “global war and terror”, which it describes as a “war with no borders”, the US Armed Forces is equating counter-terror with counterinsurgency operations. Thus, the use of same approaches and methods.

In Iraq, US efforts of strengthening the Iraqi government and instituting “democratic processes” were complemented by counter-terror operations. The US created, funded and directed the Wolf Brigade, which was responsible for the killing and abduction of civilians deemed as hostile to the government.

The Associated Press tallied a total of 539 persons killed by the Wolf Brigade from April to October 7, 2005 alone.

On September 8, 2005 the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a human rights report stating that, “Corpses appear regularly in and around Baghdad and other areas. Most bear signs of torture and appear to be victims of extrajudicial executions…. Serious allegations of extrajudicial executions underline a deterioration in the situation of law and order…. Accounts consistently point to the systematic use of torture during interrogations at police stations and within other premises belonging to the Ministry of the Interior.”

These methods could also be seen in the terror listings, and drone missile attacks and renditions being done by the US Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Singing a Different Tune?

President Benigno Aquino III and AFP Chief of Staff Ricardo David announced that they are in the process of formulating a new counterinsurgency program, which would be implemented on January 2011. They said respect for human rights would characterize the new counterinsurgency program.

Again this is a copy of the two approaches to counterinsurgency described by the US counterinsurgency guide, namely the enemy-centric approach, which focuses on defeating the insurgent militarily; and the population-centric approach, which “shifts the focus of COIN from defeating the insurgent organization to maintaining or recovering the support of the population.”

The guide admits that counterinsurgency campaigns always include the two elements, with the balance between the two changing over time.

The US thinks that President Aquino is in the best position to win over the support of the population because of the image of “reform” he carries due to the history of his parents being in the opposition, against a dictator at that. This is why the US supported the presidential campaign of Aquino.

The Philippines is very important to the US. The US is one of the three top investors in the country and the top three sources of imports and destination of exports. The Philippines is also strategically located making it an ideal place to project US military hegemony in the region. Thus, any threat to its interests in the country would merit its strong intervention, especially now that it is in a deep crisis.

Would the counterinsurgency program of the Aquino government be any different from Oplan Bantay Laya? The extrajudicial killings have not stopped and the Aquino government had no qualms about extending Oplan Bantay Laya for six months. More important is the fact that the crisis in the country is still deepening and by all indications, it appears that the Aquino government would just be implementing the same globalization policies that were pushed by the previous Arroyo administration, which passed on the burden of the crisis to the Filipino people. With no substantial reforms forthcoming, eventually the magic of the reformist image would wane, the people’s unrest would intensify, and with it, the military solution or the enemy-centric approach would take on a more dominant role. (Bulatlat.com)

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  1. In my opinion, the Philippines is inconsequential to the economic viability of the U.S. The sick man of Asia, though an embarrassment of the democratic experiment, must nevertheless be given a lifeline. Lest it might seek the path of a Venezuela, confident as a responsible, mature global citizen, that places the welfare of its own people ahead of foreign, corporatist interests—one Venezuela too many? Sadly, the “lifeline,” courtesy of the U.S., has historically led to the empowerment of depraved “members” of Philippine society. There are answers to the Philippines’ dilemma. However, these solutions don’t stand a chance of fruition, as long as the elite and powerful in this country call the shots, literally and figuratively.

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