The Mamasapano clash on January 25, 2015 between the Philippine National Police Special Action Force commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (allegedly joined by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armies) marks another historic botch in the country. This situation features how “men” emerged in the fight which only reflects an interest of the current dispensation and its source of power- the United States.

Disparagingly, the January 25 incident brings us to another glaring scenario of US-RP relations. In the past mercy missions on the existence of US forces in the Philippines, women figured as victims of human rights violations. In an international solidarity mission (ISM) held from July 24-31, 2002 in Zamboanga, Basilan and General Santos City, several cases were documented that revealed the untold stories of Mindanao’s tri-people. There were several cases of raids, illegal arrests, arbitrary detention and looting wherein civilians and not the Abu Sayaff Group members, were the primary casualties. Deaths as worst form of human rights violation become part of the joint US-RP military exercises.

In the book, “Behind the Second Front”, two cases of prostituted women in Basilan died after having sex with American soldiers as per medico-legal report.   One of them bled to death after having sexual intercourse with three American soldiers. These did not reach the mainstream media because the victim’s families were allegedly intimidated into silence and offered bribes. As in past and current scenarios, both Filipino and American soldiers take advantage of the vulnerability of the marginalized and deprived young women.

In Manarapan, Carmen, North Cotabato, a 53-year old Moro woman died after she got nervous breakdown when the US troops arrived in their place, while two children underwent a psychosocial firs aid after they experienced extreme fears and anxieties over the arrival of the Caucasian forces.

And now, initial reports from the People’s Fact Finding Mission held last February 9-11, 2015 indicated women and children bear the heavy brunt as direct and indirect witnesses to the atrocities of the state’s forces. The report initially outlined the findings to include: the commandos’ operations undermined the civilian community and GPH-MILF peace process; violation of ceasefire agreement or the Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities; disruption of family-community living including decline of school children’s attendance as schools authorities were advised to temporarily close premises; and presence of drones and American troops before and after the operations.

While the nation mourned for the 44 dead commandos, women, based on previous joint US-RP military exercises, could only recall the mercenary character of the Philippine’s armed forces (including police combatants) under the tutelage of the Americans. Looting, destruction and burning of houses, cold-blooded murder of civilians and passing them off as bandits show the degree of violence being committed against the people.

With the recent failure of the national leadership and various reports of US engagement it is with certainty that the US-backed military operations in southern Philippines are spawning more and more human rights violations reminiscent of the wars of aggression launched by Spanish and American forces against the Filipino indigenous in the 15th century and onto the Second World War. Having US troops in the Philippines is the same as having foreign troops in Iraq and other similarly situated countries disturbed by the US war on terror.

Come women’s month, grassroots women strongly commit to pursue the national campaign on VOICES OF WOMEN (VOW) VS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN where bringing the issue of all forms of violence brought about by the US intervention and puppetry of President Benigno S Aquino is a matter of great concern and with urgency boldly chanting for the latter’s ouster.

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