Confront Obama’s visit with protests

ANG BAYAN, 21 September 2013

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The Filipino people must stand firmly and confront with mass protests the visit of US imperialist chieftain Barack Obama on October 11-12 and the planned signing of an agreement allowing the US military to more thoroughly use the Philippines as a military base.

Cries of protest must reverberate against the Aquino regime's all-out subservience to the US government. The Filipino people must protest the rapid degradation of Philippine sovereignty under the Aquino regime, which has exhibited utter obsequiousness to the foreign policy dictates of the US government in support of the US' strategic aim of "pivoting" towards Asia.

Since declaring this shift, the US has been forging various arrangements with the Aquino regime and the governments of Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, India and others to allow US warships to routinely dock in their countries and have access to air and seaport facilities.

Over the past several years, the US government has succeeded in forging critical military access and basing agreements with Australia and Singapore, and is in the process of building similar agreements with the Philippines and other countries. In northern Australia, the US maintains a large military base for 3,000 American troops. Since 2005, the US has used facilities in Singapore to coordinate logistics and the deployment of warships in East Asia, Central Asia and as far as Africa.

The US has been continually upgrading its military cooperation with Japan, further strengthening its military bases in Okinawa and elsewhere. It has goaded Japan into building up its military hardware and infrastructure in order to provide logistical and military support to the US. Under US guidance, Japan recently unveiled its first-ever aircraft carrier built after the Second World War, believed to have been designed to service US aircraft.

It is within the framework of the US "pivot to Asia" that the Aquino regime has been closely working with the US government and military, allowing US warships unprecedented access to Philippine facilities. The US military has been allowed unhampered use of Philippine airspace and territorial waters to fly drones and sail warships for power projection, surveillance, patrol and combat operations. It has been allowed to build radar stations along the Philippine coastline and its US Pacific Command has long maintained a base with 700 American troops in facilities within Zamboanga City. The US also has military facilities in Sulu and North Cotabato.

Acting on the US' instructions, the Aquino regime has fomented conflict with China over the Spratlys and other formations in the South China Sea, paving the way for the US to militarize the conflict by deploying its warships in the area, and thus provoking China to make more aggressive assertions of its own claims. By heightening US military presence in the South China Sea trading route, the US seeks to pressure China into complying with US demands to allow more liberal policies with regard to US investments and the dumping of US surplus goods in the Chinese market.

Exclusive US access to Philippine facilities was already agreed upon by the US and Philippine governments as far back as January 2012 during the Strategic Defense Dialogue in Washington. Officials of the US and Aquino governments are rushing to come up with the final copy of the new agreement that will practically restore the US bases in the Philippines. Once it is forged, the bases are assured of operating in the next 20 to 30 years. The written agreement is being carefully crafted to prevent it from looking like a US military bases treaty. The US claims that it is not interested in maintaining military bases, but will merely be using facilities owned by the Philippine government, even if these were built by the US military.

The Obama visit will mark a new stage in US neocolonial rule in the Philippines, consolidating a new set of guidelines between the US government and its puppet state. Praises will be heaped by the US overlord on the Philippines as "friend" and "partner" in an attempt to conceal the fact that the country has been a victim of US colonial conquest since the turn of the 20th century and a continuing victim of US hegemonism for over more than half a century.

Let us use the Obama visit in October expose the fact that the Philippines is a semicolony of the US. Let us stand firmly against Benigno Aquino III's subservience to his imperialist master. Let us fan the flames of Filipino patriotism and unite the broadest possible number of people to oppose the grant of greater access to the US military and the entry of an increasing number of US troops.