Timing of Terror Scare, Travel Advisories Suspect – Progressive Groups

LFS chairman Terry Ridon said the greatest terror threat present in the Philippines is the continued US intervention. Gabriela Women’s Party Luzviminda Ilagan added that there is a terror scare because the ‘lopsided VFA not only allows the entry of terrorists in the country, it also guarantees their protection from suit and accountability.’


MANILA – Progressive groups said the recent terror scare in the Philippines is a ploy to justify further US military intervention in the Philippines amid the ongoing review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Signed in May 1999, the VFA paved the way for the return of US troops in the country allegedly for joint military exercises with Filipino troops. Reports, however, revealed that American soldiers are involved in actual combat.

The United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom issued travel advisories warning its citizens against traveling to the Philippines, indicating threats of terrorist attacks?in areas in Mindanao and Metro Manila as well. The advisories came after suspicious packages supposedly bound for the United States were intercepted in Britain and Dubai.

“The timing is conspicuous. They are raising the alarm against supposed terror attacks in the country at a time when questions are being raised regarding the presence of US troops and calls to abrogate the?Visiting Forces Agreement are inteifying. It seems that they are laying the propaganda groundwork to justify the continued presence of US troops in the country,” Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 9, ordering a review of the VFA and reorganizing the Presidential Commission on the VFA. Of late, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who heads the commission has been mentioning the need for ‘refinements’ instead of a comprehensive review of the VFA.

“The United States is once more raising the ante of terrorism worldwide so that it can sustain military presence and further secure its hold on areas like the Philippines,” said Ilagan.

Members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) held a rally near the US Embassy in Manila, Nov. 8 to condemn what it calls as a scheme of the US to justify the VFA amid calls for renegotiation and abrogation.

LFS chairman Terry Ridon said that in the past, the US has created an air of terror in the country to justify its presence, citing the multiple bombings in Mindanao, which is being used as the pretext for heightened military presence in the area.

“It’s easy to see that this move by the US government is aligned to the recent statement of US Defense head Robert Gates that they intend to strengthen military presence in Asia,” Ridon said.

VFA, a Failure

Ilagan added that the travel advisories resulting from so-called threats of terror attacks in the country prove that the VFA has failed in curbing terrorism.“What have these so-called counter-terrorism trainings achieved. After 12 years, what we get are travel advisories from Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and France and we have a military that is still ill-equipped and ill-trained despite year after year of Balikatan exercises,” said Ilagan.

Biggest Threat

Ridon said the greatest terror threat present in the Philippines is the continued US intervention. Ilagan added that there is a terror scare because the ‘lopsided VFA not only allows the entry of terrorists in the country, it also guarantees their protection from suit and accountability.’

“There is no point in continuing with the US-RP military exercises and there is no point in maintaining the presence of US troops in the country. An honest to goodness review of the US-RP VFA will show that this military agreement has not benefited our country and our people. Let us abrogate the VFA now.” said Ilagan.


In a separate statement sent through email, the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Mindanao said the terror threats are a ‘scheme is to justify the increasing presence of US troops in the country, and more aggressively launch the US counter insurgency strategy.’

“This wave of terror-threats and its subsequent violent counter-terror campaigns is a prelude to a full throttle attack against the revolutionary movement come January 2011. It comes as no surprise that AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] propaganda spin-doctors have maliciously rehashed the baseless “NPA-MILF-Abu Sayyaf” collusion angle,” the NDF-Mindanao said.

The NPA or the New People’s Army is the revolutionary armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The MILF or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fights for the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people while the Abu Sayyaf is a kidnap-for-ransom group with roots from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The NDF-Mindanao said the AFP redeployed the 1st Marine Brigade from Basilan to Sarangani, in time for the resumption of the GRP-MILF talks. This big force, according to the NDF, would also secure the completion of US military base facilities in the area.“The US-Aquino regime has no plan to lift the terror tag against the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the NDFP (CPP-NPA-NDFP), and these terror threats could be spitefully used as a license to amend the VFA for intensified anti-terror campaigns against the revolutionary movement. This usual terror line will only result to crackdown against the Moro people, political activists and political opposition block. The reactionary regime could also use this ploy as an excuse to derail the peace talks with the MILF and the NDFP,” the NDF-Mindanao said, citing the US Counter-Insurgency Guide (US Coin Guide). (Bulatlat.com)

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