to Pro-Balikatan Arguments
Capt. Dan Vizmanos, PN (ret.)
Convenor, Junk VFA Movement
to Alternative Reader Index
enhance public enlightenment, following is a rejoinder to pro-Balikatan
arguments. Use of the word “America” or “U.S.” does not refer to the
American people, many of whom have supported our stand against U.S. military
bases in 1991 and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1998. It refers rather,
to the powerful conglomerate known as the “U.S. military-industrial complex”
which American presidents serve as “chairman of the board.”
America is our friend. So what’s wrong with allowing U.S. forces into the
country to help us put an end to the Abu Sayyaf problem?
America is our friend, then why did it support the Marcos dictatorship for
14 long years? “Mr. President, we admire your adherence to democracy,”
was how Vice President George Bush Sr. greeted Ferdinand Marcos when he
visited the Philippines during the period of martial rule. At that time,
thousands of Filipinos were being tortured and “salvaged”
(extra-judicially executed) by the military and police henchmen of Marcos.
did America support Great Britain and not the Philippines over the Sabah
has America refused to clean up the toxic wastes that its military forces
had left behind in Clark and Subic despite its tragic effect on Filipino
lives and the local environment?
did America double-cross Emilio Aguinaldo in August 1898 and in February
1899 that marked the beginning of the Filipino-American war where more
than 600,000 Filipino civilians died?
Filipino soldiers still benefit from U.S. training in Balikatan.
do U.S. instructors know about the terrain in Basilan and the history,
culture and grievances of the Moro people?
can U.S. instructors teach the Filipino soldiers in counterinsurgency and
irregular warfare? The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ experiences in
this most difficult form of warfare spans over a period of more than 50
years. U.S. forces were directly involved only once in counterinsurgency
war. This was in Vietnam where they failed miserably.
in the use of sophisticated weaponry is peripheral to the Abu Sayyaf
problem. Essentially, the problems facing AFP combat units on the island
arise from a) faulty and questionable leadership; b) its effect on troop
morale; and c) lack of people’s support due to government’s
condescending treatment of the Moro people as second-class citizens and
failure to sincerely address their problems and grievances.
The Philippine economy and military stand to benefit from Balikatan 02-1.
of RP-U.S. joint military exercises have been held during the last 50
years. Following the pro-Balikatan logic, the Philippines should by now be
at the forefront of economic development and military capability in
Southeast Asia. But why is the country at the tail-end instead? This is
because RP-U.S. economic and military agreements are actually one-sided,
unequal and onerous impositions that serve U.S. interests primarily.
if U.S. promises them double of what it promised the Philippines, other
Southeast Asian nations will not accept if it means allowing U.S. military
intervention in their internal affairs. They have a high sense of
self-respect and national dignity. Philippine leaders are political
U.S. troop participation in Balikatan 02-1 is not for combat but for training
are many cases where military exercises are used primarily as instruments
of power politics rather than for troop training.
veil of confusing semantics and lack of transparency that characterize
Balikatan 02-1 is easier to understand when pieced against the backdrop of
U.S. Department of Defense East Asia Strategy Report of 1995, as follows:
“This report reaffirms our commitment to
maintain a stable forward presence in the region, at the existing level of
about 100,000 troops, for the foreseeable future…for maintaining forward
deployment of U.S. forces and access and basing rights for U.S. and allied
forces…If the American presence in Asia were removed…our ability to
affect the course of events would be constrained, our markets and our
interests would be jeopardized.”
12 February 2002
to Alternative Reader Index
want to know what you think of this article.