Intensifying US military intervention in the Philippines

ANG BAYAN
7 February 2012

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US armed intervention in the Philippines is mounting and is bound to grow stronger under the strategy laid down by the Obama regime, which seeks to deploy more US troops in the Philippines over the next months through military exercises, civil-military operations and other schemes hatched by the US in collaboration with the Aquino regime.

The various schemes that would allow the entry of American troops and their use of the Philippines as a base for operations in the Asia-Pacific were the subject of talks during the Strategic Defense Dialogue held on January 26-28.

Among the matters discussed during the SDD were the conduct of a massive joint military exercise under Balikatan 2012 in April with up to 1,500 American soldiers participating. Balikatan 2012 will be held in the South China Sea off the coast of Palawan. Such military exercises exacerbate tensions on the Spratly Islands issue involving China, the Philippines and other countries in the region.

Continued US military presence in the Philippines was also agreed on during the SDD. Aside from maintaining the 600-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), US warships are likewise set to conduct more numerous and more frequent visits and port calls in the Philippines and disembark American troops. There are also plans to conduct more "military exercises."

Another subject discussed in the SDD is the strengthening of Philippine naval defenses through the sale of more vintage US warships to the AFP. Through this, the US is able to permanently station warships in the South China Sea manned and defended by Philippine soldiers under the US' direction and control.

In accordance with plans under the so-called US Pacific Century, US imperialism is closely collaborating with the Aquino regime to use the Philippines to achieve its politico-military ends. US officials have since been streaming into the country, with Sens. John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte as the most recent visitors last January. McCain and his party held talks with Aquino and key military and defense officials.

Before this visit, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also came to the country in November 2011. In April 2011, US Sens. Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran arrived to inspect the Subic Naval Base, the US' former military base in Olongapo.

Meanwhile, Aquino has already made three visits to the US to meet with key American military and defense officials just over a year and a half into his presidency. He has also been summoned twice by US officials and flown by helicopter for talks aboard American warships.