4. What are the recent major forms of armed interventionism in the Philippines by the U.S.?
Since the 1992 pull-out of its military bases, the U.S. has secretly negotiated for the reinstallation of the military facilities and was able to do so through the onerous imposition of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) by an executive agreement with then President Fidel V. Ramos in February 1998. The VFA granted the U.S. full rights to use the country’s ports, airfields and airspace for its naval, airforce and land forces and operations anywhere in the archipelago. It also allowed the scheduling of “joint war exercises” between the U.S. and AFP.
Together with other secret agreements, the VFA allows the U.S. to deploy forces as well as logistics and military installations in the Philippines on a rotational, “permanent-temporary” basis – all of which approximate the re-establishment of military bases.
In September 2001, Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC), said that Clark, Subic and other military facilities in the Philippines would be used in the “global war against terrorism.” Initially, the bases will be used for “transit and transshipment of materials and personnel” as well as refueling of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from Honolulu, Guam, the U.S. West Coast to the U.S. base in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Including its former bases and other ports and airspace in the Philippines, these U.S. bases were used to support the recent wars of invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq and will also be used in a new U.S. war against North Korea, Iran and other members of the so-called “axis of evil.”
Aside from the VFA, the other forms and instruments of armed interventionism in the Philippines are:
1) the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA);
2) the retention of the outdated Mutual Defense Pact of 1951;
3) the establishment of the Defense Policy Board (DPB) based in Pentagon;
4) the retention of JUSMAG (Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group);
5) control of the AFP in the guise of military aid, war exercises, training of senior and junior officers and related;
6) the executive agreement signed by Macapagal-Arroyo granting immunity rights to U.S. forces in the Philippines in violation of the Philippine Constitution, the Rome-based International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty and other international humanitarian laws and conventions;
7) continued intervention in counter-insurgency (now dubbed as “counter-terrorism”) operations through the deployment “military advisers,” trainers, Special Operation Forces (SOFs) and other forms of “military assistance” (such as intelligence, air support, etc.);
8) retention of a number of U.S. forces - along with their logistics, war equipment and other facilities – who are participating in so-called war exercises on a temporary or permanent basis;
9) covert operations by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence arms as well as by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), US Agency for International Development (AID) such as its clandestine and well-funded AGILE project, and other “non-military” forms;
10) tagging revolutionary groups, their leaders as well as legal organizations as “terrorist” in order to justify bigger armed interventionism in the guise of the “war on terror” and become “legitimate targets” of military, police and intelligence operations;
11) covert pressures on the Philippine government, through the DND, to scuttle peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
By the way, one of the most recent acts of intervention by the U.S. is the replacement in 2002 of Vice President Teofisto Guingona, who has a record of anti-U.S. bases stance, by the rabidly pro-U.S. and former Marcos henchman, Blas Ople as foreign affairs secretary. In October 2003, the head of the VFA Monitoring Committee, lawyer Amado Valdez, was sacked by Ople for saying in a report that the treaty is onerous and one-sided in favor of the United States.