The US and Philippine panels agreed during the 6th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, March 17─18 to let the US military forces use five Philippine military bases. When US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited the Philippines last April 13, the “agreed locations” became seven. The updated list includes the former US’ airbase, Clark and, hold your breath, Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the pillar of the Philippine state!
Sec. Carter and Philippine defence secretary Voltaire Gazmin made the public announcement at the height of the campaign for the 2016 national elections, when many people were focused at the on-going electoral campaign events that were more carnival-like than a serious democratic exercise.
Like the deployment of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in 2002, the present deployment here of US troops is “upon the invitation of the allied government of the Philippines,” as Carter reiterated.
Exactly. The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is buttressing US’s military strategy. Statements of US (officials), which Arroyo did not disprove, said she invited US troops to help annihilate the Abu Sayyaf and she allowed them to base in AFP camps and embed in Filipino formations in Mindanao.
The Aquino government delivered everything the US needs: heating up the conflict by sending a Philippine Navy ship to arrest Chinese poachers in Scarborough/Panatag Shoal and confront the Chinese Coast Guard; drumbeating its belligerent position against China; peddling among the Filipino people the need to depend on the US to respond to this problem; and entering into the EDCA that gives the US the right to position again its troops and war equipment. This is the Aquino administration’s legacy to the one who will take his place.
Because opposition was not strong enough, the Philippine state is now putting into operation the unhampered use of the Philippines in accordance with the design of the US “rebalance” or “pivot” in the Asia-Pacific that gears toward containing and even towards waging a war against China.
The US admits that the conflict on sovereignty in the islands, reefs cays and rocks in the South China Sea is not within its domain.
By letting US military forces preposition, however, to the point that it allowed US Marines to base in Camp Aguinaldo and by agreeing to let Filipino troops patrol with US troops in the South China Sea, the Aquino government gives primacy to serving the US in its role set by the “rebalance” for the Philippines.
The Aquino government is reliant on the US. Meanwhile, the US gears against China, not because it is fighting for the rights of countries involved in the territorial dispute, rather, in order for it to remain the only superpower in the entire world.
The US’s war against China is increasingly becoming a reality. The US has deployed stealth bombers to the Pacific. US troops in Japan have increased by 20%. For the first time since 2011, 1,250 US Marines deployed in Australia’s Northern territory along with four UH-1Y Venom helicopters and an array of war equipment. Australia and Japan have laid down the legal bases of their support for the US’s “rebalance.” And now, Philippine soldiers will join them in patrolling the South China Sea.
China continuously modernizes its weaponry and realigns the structure of the People’s Liberation Army. No signs show that it is giving in to provocations and threats of the US.
Hence it looks like the filing of a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration merely aims to bolster US’s would-be rationalization of its war against China and to win international support. The world awaits the decision of the Permanent Court. As it nears, however, maneuvers in the South China Sea are intensifying.
AC-10 Warthogs of the US Air Force regularly fly from Clark Air Base. Within the scope of the South China Sea, these particularly hover on Scarborough/ Panatag Shoal that China grabbed from the Philippines in 2012. China purportedly plans to transform this into an “island” where it will have an airfield.
The Aquino government does not explain that these moves could lead to war. They withhold from the people the truth that US basing will not bring about security, that we will not be safe from the exchange of missiles between the US, Australia and Japan on one hand and China on the other.
This is just the start of a farsighted design of the US that that has trapped the Philippines. The Filipino people always have the opportunity to fight and assert independence and sovereignty. The people should assert to the government that while there is still time, the Philippines should break away from the military agreements with the US so that it becomes independent in seeking peaceful means of solving its conflict with China.K
From KILUSAN (Official Publication of Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya) | Year 10 Release 2 | April 15, 2016
*Sketch on top: Jayson Cadiz
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