By BENJIE OLIVEROS
During the time when the Aquino government was defending the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US, it repeatedly claimed that the increased presence of US troops in the country would ‘protect’ the country in the event that the territorial dispute with China escalates into a shooting war.
Progressive groups and patriotic individuals, on the other hand, countered that it would bring the country no good as the presence of US troops would not only violate the Philippine Constitution and the nation’s sovereignty, it would also pull the country into wars that the US initiated such as the global “war on terror.” This, they said, would make the Philippines vulnerable to attacks from the enemies of the US.
And besides, they added, the US would never go to war against China for the Philippines because that would be against US interests, with China being a big market, a host of US transnational corporations, and its biggest debtor outside the US. It never even recognized Philippine claims to the Spratly islands and Panatag Shoal, much unlike Japan where US Pres. Barack Obama categorically claimed that the islands being disputed by Japan and China is the former’s territory.
Well, the Mamasapano fiasco, which killed 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) troops of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 18 Moro fighters, and five civilians, has proven the truth of the arguments of progressive groups and patriotic individuals. Oplan Exodus was undoubtedly a US operation: the US provided the target (Marwan and Usman), the intelligence support, the training, the maps, and drones, among others. Relieved PNP-SAF head Getulio Napeñas admitted that much. Witnesses even saw US soldiers during the retrieval operations and reports revealed that among those killed in the battle was a Caucasian man.
Clearly, President Benigno Aquino III, who has so far admitted that he knew about the operations and was briefed about the plans, and the military advisers from the US, knew that the casualties on the side of PNP-SAF troops would be high. Why wouldn’t it? They were engaging in combat in an area where fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are stationed.
Even the makers of the movie Black Hawk Down knew as much that it is impossible to launch a combat operation into the territory of an adversary without inviting fire from all sides and suffering heavy casualties.
Thus, in effect, the PNP-SAF troops who were killed and wounded were used as cannon fodder in a, undoubtedly, US operation. If we are to count the number of those sacrificed for this US-directed operation, it would include the 44 SAF killed, the 18 Moro fighters, five civilians, and likewise, those who have been killed and the thousands more who are being displaced in the ongoing “all out war” being waged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the BIFF.
President Benigno Aquino III and the US should be held accountable for this.
Recently, Bulatlat.com published a report regarding the call of Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon for a congressional review on the activities of the 600 US Special Forces troops who were stationed here under the auspices of the Joint Special Operations Task Force–Philippines (JSOTF-P) to determine the extent of US military intervention in the country. This, after the US embassy quietly announced the closure of the JSOTF-P. (Progressives warn that the closure was done to give way to the entry of more US troops into the country with the signing of the EDCA.) Rep. Ridon also called for a probe into the deaths of 17 US Special Forces troops during the past 13 years.
Let us support the call for the review of the JSOTF-P and the junking of the EDCA, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the GPH as well.