The Balikatan exercises jointly conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Army in Luzon and Mindanao were slated to end on March 3, but we do not expect this to be the end of the presence of US troops in our country.
We cannot forget that this is the same army that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the same army that dropped tons of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals on the Vietnamese people; and the same army that developed and used weapons containing depleted uranium in the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.
We find it difficult to believe that the same army that has such a brutal history would conduct humanitarian missions with no sinister objective. With such a bloody history, we find it easier to believe that these “humanitarian missions” are being conducted in pursuit of inhumanitarian goals. These “humanitarian missions” serve a military purpose – to gather information needed for military operations and to desensitize the people to the presence of US troops in the communities.
It seems that the “humanitarian missions” cum counterinsurgency operations are unpalatable to the Moro people. They cannot forget the massacres committed by the US army at Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak in the early 1900s. Maybe it is this history the US colonialists are trying to erase by conducting humanitarian missions in predominantly Muslim communities.
Are the “humanitarian missions” conducted by American troops the answer to the festering illnesses of Filipinos in rural areas? These high profile humanitarian missions just serve to cover up the government’s incompetence in providing basic health services specially for indigent Filipinos. Isn’t this a slap in the face of our government to have to rely on humanitarian missions of foreign military troops to provide medical care to those in need?
Instead of ensuring an adequate supply of medicines in government hospitals, government officials are busy ensuring their multi-million peso kickbacks. A glaring example is the $130M kickback in the scandalous ZTE NBN deal. The kickback alone is the equivalent of P5.2B, half of the annual budget for health!
Weeding out the roots of the rampant corruption in government would contribute substantially to the provision of basic services for indigent Filipinos. A billion pesos in the pockets of corrupt officials is a billion pesos less for medicines and supplies in government hospitals.
As President/ Chief executive GMA cannot escape accountability for blatant corruption. Her brazen cover up of the anomalies in several government contracts erodes her credibility and ability to govern. This convinces us all the more that she should step down – now!
Angelie Kristin Gimongala, RN
Community Based Health Services – Mindanao