“Despite Duterte’s China pivot, the US military continues to hold war games and military training with Philippine troops under the Balikatan exercises.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – An expert witness during the recently-concluded tribunal revealed the continuing presence and intervention of the US government in Philippine affairs, resulting to gross human rights violations.
“The unholy alliance between the Philippine and US governments is long-standing, said Marjorie Cohn, former president of the US’ National Lawyers Guild during her testimony before the jurors of the International People’s Tribunal held in Brussels, Belgium.
The IPT, which concluded yesterday, Sept. 19, found Duterte, US President Donald Trump, and international monetary organizations guilty of violating the political and economic rights, and the right to self-determination of the Filipino people.
In the 11-page verdict, the IPT pointed out that Duterte “has essentially demonstrated his allegiance to US imperialist goals in the Asia-Pacific region. The Defendant Duterte government also overturned anew the victory of the people in removing US military bases.”
Cohn said that for the past 17 years, US presidents George Bush, Barrack Obama and now Donald Trump continued to “provide assistance to the Philippine government, which enables it to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against its own people and deny them their legal right to self-determination.”
From the presidential campaign until his early days as president, Duterte initially issued strong pronouncements against the political, economic, and military intervention of the United States on Philippine affairs, even putting on hold the joint military exercises and war games and even announced a supposed “separation” from the US.
Cohn noted that in January 2017, Duterte even criticized the US government for building permanent military infrastructure in the Philippines and threatened to cancel the treaty between the two countries. However, after the so-called “fraternal meeting” between Duterte and Trump at the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting in Manila back in November 2017, “Duterte began issuing pro-US policy statements, upholding and continuing the Visiting Forces Agreement and Mutual Logistics Support Agreement negotiated between the US and the Philippines.”
The expert witness also noted that the joint military exercises have also resumed.
“Despite Duterte’s China pivot, the US military continues to hold war games and military training with Philippine troops under the Balikatan exercises. And the United States persists in developing its soft power in the region, especially in the Philippines,” Cohn said.
In 2017 and 2018, the US government provided $175,450,000 in military assistance to the Philippine regime. Last month, on Aug. 30, 2018, Cohn said the US government has already announced that a whopping $60 million in “security assistance” will be provided to the Philippines under the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US as “a recognition of the long-term partnership we have with the Philippines at the security front.”
These have allowed the Philippine military to carry out its counterinsurgency policy of Oplan Kapayapaan, which Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in her testimony resulted in gross and rampant human rights violations.
Cohn said since the US military aid to the Philippine government “facilitates its commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity against its own people” the US government may also be held “liable in the International Criminal Court as aiders and abettors of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”