Secret diplomatic cables starkly reveal US intervention and puppetry of local ruling classes

Communist Party of the Philippines
September 27, 2011

A broad survey of the US Embassy dispatches published by Wikileaks.org

The secret cables from the US embassy in Manila published by the website Wikileaks.org over the past several months reveal the extent of US imperialist interventionism in the Philippines as well as the servility and obsequiousness of local reactionary politicians.

The nearly 1,800 cables currently available in the Wikileaks website clearly show how the US embassy in Manila serves not simply as a diplomatic outpost of a co-sovereign government, but as the de facto center of semicolonial rule in the Philippines. These cables help expose how US imperialism engages in interventionism to shape domestic policies to ensure that these hew to its economic, military and geo-political interests. According to these cables, the US embassy maintains “contacts” with elements within the military and police hierarchy, the government bureaucracy and big business circles.

The secret cables reveal how local reactionary politicians are regularly summoned by the American ambassador or seek audiences with embassy officers to provide the US government with political, military and economic briefings, from the most benign to the most virulent information.

The ruling class politicians are shameless puppets of the US imperialists. They are sycophants of the US ambassador, heaping praises and expressing endless gratitude. They brown-nose to US officials and seek advice, instructions or American approval of their planned measures. Even Gloria Arroyo sought the favorable opinion of US officials regarding her plans of imposing martial law in early 2005.

These cables also show how officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) act as if they were subordinates of the US government and the US Pacific Command. The American ambassador regularly receives reports from the military commanders. Military and police officials, even the Philippine president, brief the US ambassador and embassy officials on their military plans and share progress reports in the local implementation of the US’ war against terror.

By funding equipment and weapons acquisition, training programs and joint exercises and having military advisers work with the local military forces, the US is able to set the direction and priorities of the PNP and AFP. Military and police officials are all beholden to the US government. They treat the US ambassador and US government officials like commanders whenever the latter visit to check on the progress of US-funded programs and projects.

Through these secret cables (most of which date from 2004 to 2010), one can see how the US embassy in Manila closely worked with officials of the Arroyo regime to push US involvement in counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines. They show how the US embassy collaborated with military and defense officials of the puppet regime to come up with legal justifications to serve as framework for the involvement of the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF)-Philippines in local combat operations against popular armed resistance and local bandit groups. Philippine government officials have assured US officials that they are “pushing the envelope” with respect to US participation in local combat operations and have advised that such involvement be publicly described as falling under “joint exercises.”

Furthermore, the dispatches show that the US has worked with the local puppet government in including the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and NDF Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison in the US-maintained list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. These cables also reveal that the US government collaborated with the Philippine and Dutch governments in pressing trumped-up murder charges against Sison in order to effect his arrest and detention in The Netherlands. The US and Philippine governments have also discussed that the threat of inclusion in the FTO list can be used as a “sword of Damocles” against the MILF.

The US embassy has been working closely with their local puppets to secure the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The secret cables also show how US embassy officials worked closely with the Arroyo government to gain custody of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith. The US embassy mobilized American military forces then stationed in the Port of Manila to retrieve him from the Makati City jail and transfer him to the custody of the US embassy.

In these dispatches, the US embassy underscores the importance of carrying out so-called “mercy missions” to “enhance domestic support for U.S. military deployments” and “promote American values.” It can be clearly read from these cables that the so-called “humanitarian” and “civil-military operations” which are routinely carried out by American soldiers all ultimately aim to draw the people’s attention away from the questions of national sovereignty and military interventionism and have their continued presence in the Philippines become palatable to the people.

In the economic field, the secret cables reveal the US government’s keen interest in pushing for the further liberalization of the Philippine economy in order to allow greater freedom for foreign investors to operate in the Philippines. The US closely monitors and pushes efforts “to remove legal barriers to trade and investment and further open up the Philippine economy”. The US government makes clear its demand for constitutional amendments through direct consultations between US embassy officials and Philippine senators and congressmen and through public statements of the American Chamber of Commerce.

The secret cables show the US government’s keen interest in ensuring access of US agricultural products into the Philippines. In meeting with local agriculture officials, US embassy officials said the US government is extremely pleased when the Philippine government removed all restrictions against US meat and bone meal, making the Philippines the only country to be completely open to US beef products by October 2009 despite prevailing safety concerns.

The dispatches also reveal how the US government pushed for fully opening up mining operations in the Philippines to big foreign mining companies. US officials pushed the Philippine government to undertake a joint mineral resources assessment in order to gather new data on Philippine mineral and non-mineral resources through mapping, sampling, aeromagnetic and satellite imaging.

Invoking “intellectual property” rhetoric, US embassy officials also interfered in congressional deliberations in 2006 of a law dealing with the importation of medicines in order to protect the interests of big American pharmaceutical companies. US interference rendered the so-called “cheaper medicines bill” inutile in dealing with the problem of over-priced medicines.

The US embassy cables also reveal the special attention given by the US government to Mindanao which it regards as “a key region for US interests” and “on the front lines of the war on terror”. In several cables, the US embassy discusses its “multifaceted engagement in Mindanao.” These cables show US assessment of the economic potentials of Mindanao, particularly of the remaining unexplored mineral and oil resources.

According to the US embassy, the “development” of the mining industry in Mindanao “lies in its ability to attract large-scale mining firms, many of which are foreign.” The US has expressed concern over the opposition of the Catholic Church, local communities, the revolutionary movement and the MILF and seek to resolve “the security situation.” Towards this end, the US maintains a large contingent of American soldiers in Zamboanga City while carrying out USAID-funded projects to generate support for American presence and involvement in Mindanao.

As shown by the secret cables, the US government has extended its “Mindanao engagement” to Palawan where it also conducts regular joint military exercises with the AFP. Emphasizing “maritime security”, the US has offered to sell naval ships and other armaments. Cooperation with the AFP in the Palawan seas is crucial in the “power projection” objectives of the US in the Pacfic.

The reactionary local ruling classes are unabashed apologists of US imperialist interventionism in the Philippines. Not a single reactionary politician has questioned the out and out interference of the US government in the internal political, military and economic affairs of the Philippines as revealed in these cables. Not one has shown any sense of national dignity. Not one has protested the imperial domination of the US government. Even the most vociferous among the reactionary politicians have kept quiet after being reminded by the US embassy not to comment on the secret cables.

The Filipino people owe a great deal to the people behind Wikileaks.org for having published these secret dispatches from the US embassy in Manila as well as hundreds of thousands of classified files from the US government. These cables should be widely distributed, studied and exposed in order to heighten the Filipino people’s awareness of the reality of US neocolonial rule in the Philippines and the puppetry of the reactionary ruling classes.