12/3/09

controlling resources

Over 3000 armed troops now guard the Ampatuan family mansion in the Philippines. Why? To protect them of course.
The extra battalion of 400 soldiers brings to more than 3,000 the number of soldiers now guarding the home of the Ampatuan clan and government offices in Maguindanao province, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner said....Brawner said that the deployment of the 33rd Infantry Battalion to Maguindanao Capitol in Shariff Aguak would be to guard at least two mansions of the Ampatuan clan and also to provide security to the members of the family.
Because somebody could get hurt. And nobody can be trusted...except the military of course, which can be trusted to protect the "clan."
Supporters of the clan, which has ruled Maguindanao for a decade and has its own private army, were being barred from entering the home in the provincial capital of Shariff Aguak, Brawner said.

“First of all, we do not allow just anyone inside their houses because someone might manage to sneak in, someone might pose as a supporter of Ampatuan and then do something else. And of course, we are also restricting the movements of the Ampatuans because there are threats to their life,” Brawner said in Filipino.

The military spokesman refused to identify which group was threatening the Ampatuan clan but said that there was a “possibility of retaliation.”

“There is a possibility, of course, maaaring hindi mismo sa pamilya galing maaaring yung mga supporters nila [it may not come from the family but from their supporters]… maaaring may mga galit na galit dyan at gustong bumawi [there may be those who are mad and will want to retaliate] so this is also one thing that we are guarding against,” Brawner said.
Why would anyone be mad? Who would dare to be mad? This "clan" operates above the Rule of Law, for even when they are caught up in the Rule of Law after allegedly massacring dozens of innocent people in cold blood, mysterious threats get conveyed to judges and lo, the accused family may repose in their mansions with 3000 soldiers to protect them.

Well I'm sure the US has nothing whatsoever to do with any of this atrocity, despite all these things I collected on 11/10/09; but coincidentally, the US ambassador, Ms. Kristie Kenney, who actually said the magic words, "It's something you could have never imagined," has recently been replaced.

11/22/09: MANILA, Philippines--US President Barack Obama’s appointment of a new envoy to the Philippines to replace Ambassador Kristie Kenney augurs well for the two countries’ relations, MalacaƱang said Saturday.

“Considering that the incoming ambassador is the personal choice and personal nominee of President Barack Obama, that could only mean one thing: That this will all go well for friendlier, warmer and better US-Philippine relations,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said over dzRB radio.

His appointment of Harry K. Thomas was proof that Obama “walks his talk about giving importance” to the Asia-Pacific region, Remonde said.

The appointment came a week after the high-level visit to the country of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And even though they really liked Ms. Kenney in the Philippines, the new ambassador has to deal with lingering problems.

But the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan warned Thomas that he would be facing a tough time in the Philippines because of lingering questions on the presence of US troops in Mindanao and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the treaty governing the conduct of American soldiers in the country.

“It won’t be smooth sailing for the new envoy. Ambassador Thomas will face the still unresolved issue of the Visiting Forces Agreement. He will face calls for the review and termination of the VFA. He will face queries on the permanent presence of US troops in Mindanao,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

He said Thomas would be judged “based on his engagement of issues.”

Reyes said Thomas’ predecessor, Kenney, often took time out to interact with Filipinos by showing up at collegiate basketball games and TV game shows, but she was leaving behind unresolved issues.

“While seemingly departing from the mold of the ‘cold warrior’ envoys of old through her populist actions, Kenney consistently upheld US imperial interests during her stint. Aside from watching college ball games and appearing on Wowowee, Kenney should also be remembered for taking in a convicted Lance Corporal Daniel Smith into US embassy custody in violation of Philippine laws,” he said.

After Smith was sentenced by a Makati court to 40 years in prison in December 2006 for the rape of a Filipino woman, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and Kenney forged an agreement to transfer Smith from the city jail to the US embassy.

Unresolved issues

The Court of Appeals acquitted Smith in April this year, saying the evidence did not convince it of the “moral certainty” of Smith’s guilt. He has since been freed and flown to the US.

“For all her efforts to give the ‘war on terror’ a chummy spin, controversies in the VFA, human rights violations and US basing in the South still came to the fore. She will leave behind many unresolved issues, including those that have spurred a Philippine Senate resolution calling for a review or termination of the VFA,” Reyes said.

Aha. So it's not all honey and roses between the US and the Philippines. The US behaves in an imperialist fashion, evidently, and not with particular regard for the Philippines Rule of Law. There are calls to terminate the VFA, to end the permanent presence of American troops in Mindanao.

^^^^^^^

There used to be a US naval base at Subic Bay which has a long history that ended thusly: (links removed)
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S. Navy installation in the Pacific and was the largest overseas military installation of the United States Armed Forces after Clark Air Base in Angeles City was closed in 1991.

...On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo, just 20 miles (32 km) from Subic Bay, exploded with a force 8 times greater than the Mount St. Helens eruption. Day turned to night as volcanic ash blotted out the sun. Volcanic earthquakes and heavy rain, lightning and thunder from Typhoon Yunya passing over northern Luzon made Black Saturday a 36-hour nightmare.

By the morning of June 16, when the volcano's fury subsided, Subic Bay, once one of the most beautiful and well-maintained Navy bases in the Pacific, lay buried under a foot of rain-soaked, sandy ash.

...Many months before the expiration of the Military Bases Agreement of 1947 intense negotiations between the governments of the United States and the Philippines began. These negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Friendship, Peace and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. This would have extended the lease of the American bases in the Philippines.

On September 13, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the ratification of this treaty, citing a number of reasons for the rejection. This was a devastating blow to the Aquino administration, who were strongly pro-treaty and even called for a referendum by the Filipino people; a move that was declared unconstitutional.
In December 1991, the two governments were again in talks to extend the withdrawal of American forces for three years but this broke down as the United States refused to detail their withdrawal plans or to answer if nuclear weapons were kept on base. Finally on December 27, President Corazon Aquino, who had previously fought to delay the U.S. pullout to cushion the country's battered economy, issued a formal notice for the U.S. to leave by the end of 1992. Naval Station Subic Bay was the U.S.'s largest overseas defense facility after Clark Air Base was closed.

During 1992, tons of material including drydocks and equipment, were shipped to various Naval Stations. Ship-repair and maintenance yards as well as supply depots were relocated to other Asian countries including Japan and Singapore. Finally, on November 24, 1992, the American Flag was lowered in Subic for the last time and the last 1,416 Sailors and Marines at Subic Bay Naval Base left by plane from NAS Cubi Point and by the USS Belleau Wood. This withdrawal marked the first time since the 16th Century that no foreign military forces were present in the Philippines.
Except that US forces are still in the Philippines, in Mindanao, working on some unspecified projects. And while projects in Minguindanao have been suspended, the Mindanao projects have not been suspended. According to Ms. Kenney:
Other US projects in Mindanao, she added, continue as they are more vital now than ever.
What are they and why are they more vital than ever?

Mindanao is also where the Irish Catholic missionary priest had recently been captured by a "separatist Muslim rebel group" (MILF), and subsequently released.
As tensions mounted anew in Mindanao, hundreds of residents in some Maguindanao towns reportedly fled after the MILF began massing its heavily armed forces following rumors that the military was poised to launch rescue operations.

Despite the row over Sinnot's kidnapping, senior US Embassy officials in Manila have held clandestine meetings with MILF leaders in their Maguindanao camp. The US Embassy has kept mum on the meetings, but on its website, the MILF confirmed in a statement that it had held talks with a visiting group of American diplomats led by the US Embassy charge d'affaires, Leslie Basset, on October 16.

Lasting for two hours, the meeting "was warm and forthright", the MILF said and quoted Basset as saying that the US was willing to play a role in the peace talks. "Helping attain and sustain peace, security and development in Mindanao is a priority concern of our government," the MILF quoted Bassett as saying.

The US is a major aid donor, including for various development projects, making it a key stakeholder in Mindanao's peace process. It has provided funds and built roads, bridges, school buildings and other infrastructure projects, particularly in impoverished Muslim-populated areas in Mindanao.

"Peace-making and peace-building must go hand-in-hand in resolving the Bangsamoro problem and the conflict in Mindanao," the MILF said.

As part of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US has also extended training and intelligence support to Filipino troops in their counter-terrorism operations. MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar told the visiting US diplomats that the MILF welcomed Washington's offer to push the peace process.
Warm and friendly secret meetings with Muslim terrorist groups? YES. It does not add up, does it. Either the MILF is not what they claim to be, or the US is not what it claims to be, or both.
Political analysts have blasted Bassett's "secret visit" to the MILF's camp in Mindanao. Jonathan de la Cruz, an independent political analyst and regular columnist at the People's Journal, said the US diplomats' visit was "sly", "brazen" and "downright offensive" to "our integrity and independence as a sovereign country".

"We cannot afford to have all kinds of peace workers roam the land, talk to rebel groups and insist that they are promoting peace and prosperity in the land," he said. The diplomats should have been declared persona non grata and expelled by Manila, he asserted.

De la Cruz blamed the MILF for atrocities in Mindanao and recalled that the rebel group unleashed a killing spree last year after the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional its proposal to establish a "juridical state" in Mindanao. The high court's ruling aborted the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Manila and the MILF in Kuala Lumpur.

Despite the MILF's well-documented acts of terrorism violence, the US has surprisingly excluded the secessionist group from its global list of terrorist organizations. The Islamic extremists Abu Sayyaf and communist-led New People's Army are currently the only Philippine groups on Washington's list.
Or not so surprisingly. Because what is this conflict about? It's about control over the land, which is an "ancestral homeland" to indigenous people and, coincidentally, full of underground natural resources. Maybe this is why relations are so warm and friendly? Maybe this is why the Ampatuan clan enjoys protection? Whoever controls this land controls what's buried underground. Certain factions in the US power structure might cozy up to some Muslim separatist rebel group or corrupt politician if they had something important in common: greed.

There's no telling what might be buried underground in the Philippines.

4 comments:

Dublin Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vidacavallaro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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