The Philippines: Where the War on Terror has become the War of Terror

May. 16, 2007

Contributed by Brian McAfee
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 13 May 6- 12, 2007

In the Philippines Bush’s War On Terror has become a War Of Terror. Last week Elias Mabundas, 25, and Auling Bugahod, 50, both left wing activists were gunned down by the Philippine military as they were driving down a freeway. On Wednesday, April 18, Carmelo Palacios, 41, became the 51st journalist to be killed since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001. Two days prior to the Palacios killing, Willie Jerus, 43, a member of the National Peasant Movement (KMP) and a local organizer, was gunned down in front of his wife by an unidentified gunman. He was the 843rd leftist to be killed, usually by the same proverbial unidentified gunman/gunmen since Arroyo came to power. In addition to those known killed an additional 210 are reported as missing.

Most on the Left place full responsibility for the killings and disappearances on the military, the Arroyo government, and the Bush administration because of its close ties to Arroyo and the Philippine military.

Rebuked by the UN and the Permanent Peoples Tribunal over human rights abuses and the ongoing killings, Arroyo and the U.S. have begun to be held to account. Those murdered have been from every region of the Philippine archipelago and represent a cross section of society. They include priests, journalists, farmers, human rights workers, union leaders and those in the health field among others. Two weeks prior to the aforementioned killings, two other KMP activists were found shot, stabbed and placed in garbage bags. Arthur Orpilla and Dionisio Baltad were found 240 miles north of Manila near a military base. The list of deaths has been compiled by Karapatan, the Philippines most prominent human rights organization.

Among those killed about ten percent have been women and a large number of the disappeared have been women. On March 31, Grecil Gelacio, nine years old, was gunned down by members of the Philippine Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as a whole, the Arroyo administration and the U.S. government needs to be held accountable for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people across the Philippines that have occurred over the past 6 years.

The U.S. military has had a long-time training program with the Philippine military and Philippine National Police. The U.S. Embassy in Manila provides information on the most pertinent joint training programs between the U.S. military and the Philippines, an excerpt from this program description reads-“The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is an important component of U.S. efforts to professionalize the AFP. The IMET program strives to strengthen the AFP’s professionalism, commitment to human rights, discipline and technical expertise. IMET graduates populate top AFP ranks and actively promote close and professional U.S. and Philippine military-to-military relationships.”

Philippine military assistance from the U.S. went from $14.6 million in 2001 to $86.5 million a year in 2005. The U.S./Philippine joint military training includes small unit and sniper training. The only suspension that occurred of this joint training was when a rift developed between the two countries when a U.S. Marine was tried and convicted of raping a Philippine national. The U.S. government upset that their rapist was put in a Philippine jail suspended the joint exercises until he was transferred to the U.S. Embassy. Raul Gonzalez, Arroyo’s justice secretary was pivotal in making sure the U.S. was accommodated in this case and generally seems to side with the U.S. government over the well being of his own people.

The War of Terror the U.S. is inflicting on the Philippine people through its blanket support for Arroyo and the Philippine military and national police is also a War on the Poor as the targets are generally those concerned with the poverty issue and the beneficiaries of the killings would seem to be those that don’t want change, the rich and foreign capital or corporate interests. Brian McAfee/Posted by Bulatlat

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