By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — ‘Hypocrite,’ ‘shameless,’ ‘treacherous,’ ‘puppet.’ These are just some of the descriptions hurled at Philippine president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III this week by patriotic Filipino leaders.
Holding two Lakbayan (protest caravans), one in Luzon and another in Mindanao, plus other protest actions such as one in the Philippine consulate in New York, USA, and a symbolic attack on the outward seat of US government in Manila – its embassy – protesters all expressed disgust at Aquino’s red carpet welcome of thousands of US troops in the country and at the same time Aquino’s making noises about upgrading the country’s defense posture.
Aquino is neither protecting Philippine sovereignty, whether from China or from the US, nor its capability to defend Philippine sovereignty, critics said. On the contrary, they said, the Aquino government has been proving itself as a shameless “puppet of US imperialist,” opening the country and its people wide to its former colonizer’s continued manipulation and violence, while mouthing a “lousy” excuse for all that by seemingly picking a fight with China.
In truth, through the new baselines law and the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking between the Philippines and China, the government has also been “selling out” its claims to the contested islets and shoal, said Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and lawyer Terry Ridon of the League of Filipino Students.
At the end of it all, only the US would benefit from the tension at the Western Philippine Sea, said Kadamay. Its “mendicant colonial vassal,” as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls President Aquino, allows the US military unlimited use of the Philippine territory as their own base. Also, the CPP added, the “US military-industrial capitalists stand to benefit in the US-instigated push to build-up military strength by the Philippines and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Thanks to President Aquino’s shopping for the US troops’ discards, the US government gets a chance to turn its junk into cash, and its military-industrial capitalists gain additional customers for spare parts, repairs, etc.
US-Aquino’s big swindle
Based on the Aquino government’s actions, its desired buildup of “a minimum credible defense posture” through purchases of discarded and obsolete US military surplus hardware and war materiel are mostly aimed against enemies or rivals of the United States government itself, such as China and North Korea, and at Filipino organizations critical of US and Aquino governments’ economic policies.
The Aquino government’s calls for the deployment of more US troops are at the root of his critics’ charge that he is being hypocritical.
“Aquino pretends to be patriotic by supposedly defending our claim in Scarborough shoal against China’s while at the same time opening all 7,100 islands of the Philippines as war playground of US troops,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
The KMU pointed out to another bias of the Aquino government that greatly disadvantages ordinary Filipinos. “The Aquino administration would even fund the cost of operations of US troops in the country while Filipino tax payers, especially the poor, receive less social services such as education and healthcare.”
Because of the “basing without bases” charade of the Visiting Forces Agreement, where the “just visiting” US troops actually stay in Philippine territory 365 days a year since ten years ago, inside Philippine military camps, the Philippine government has been spending also on maintaining the said camps and their supposed training grounds.
Worse, while in the Philippines and in outright violations of its Constitution, the US military has basically worked against the basic interests of ordinary Filipinos. As Anakbayan pointed out, “Aside from its violation of our independence, our past experiences with the American bases reveal the scourges brought about by U.S troops in our country.” These include the damaging effects of nuclear materials the US troops had brought in.
After the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, evacuees were housed in the then just-abandoned U.S bases. Hundreds fell ill due to radiation poisoning and died, and the children of hundreds of the evacuees suffered birth defects. Today, the Philippine government reportedly still does not have the power nor the political will, to bar US troops from bringing in nuclear weapons.
Anakbayan also reminded the public that U.S soldiers have been known to sexually abuse Filipinas, and encourage prostitution which also exploits women. In other countries, US troops are also notorious for committing massacres, such as the July 2007 massacre of a dozen Iraqis, including two journalists, by a U.S military helicopter crew. Recent events, such as the ‘Subic Rape Case’ and death or a Filipino translator inside a military camp being used by US have shown that the Philippines government has been “rendered helpless in bringing erring American soldiers to justice,” said Anakbayan.
Recently, Anakbayan also warned against the latest added threat to Filipinos, the introduction of ‘killer drones,’ or unmanned aerial vehicles of the U.S military. Though the American government calls these as ‘smart weapons’, it has actually massacred civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan often because they were supposedly mistakenly targeted.
“The greatest threat to the freedom of our country and people is already within our borders,” declared Charisse Bañez of Anakbayan. She reminded that based on the US troops’ decades-long military presence in the Philippines, they have proven to be a bwisita, or a most unwelcome guest.”