U.S. Expanding Combat Mission in Philippines

February 24, 2003

On February 20, the Pentagon announced the deployment of nearly 3,000 U.S. troops to the Philippines "to engage in a major combat offensive."

The U.S. troops will initially attack the forces of the Abu Sayaff group but the longer-term objective is all-out military intervention against the Filipino people. Last summer, the Bush administration officially labelled the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as "terrorist organizations." Already U.S. military "advisers" are conducting inspection tours of Filipino troops engaged in counter-insurgency war in the regions of Bicol and Southern Tagalog.

In the Philippines, as elsewhere, the Bush administration is trying to use the flimsy cover of a so-called "war against international terrorism," to hide its colonial objectives.

In fact, the current deployment of U.S. troops is a direct violation of the constitution of the Philippines which bars foreign military forces from operating in the country. But the Pentagon aims at once again turning the Philippines into a major U.S. military base and using it as a strategic staging ground for dominating Asia.

In addition, the U.S. monopoly capitalist class continues to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of the Filipino people. Some 150 U.S. corporations, including Dole, Dupont, Chevron, Monsanto, GM and others, hold billions in investments, dominating agriculture, manufacturing as well as finance.

The current deployment of U.S. troops is the second in less than a year. In April, 2002, over 1,300 U.S. military personnel were sent to the island of Basilan, allegedly only to "train" Filipino troops. But these U.S. forces repeatedly conducted clandestine military operations and joint missions with Filipino forces. Last year, the Bush administration also sent over $100 million to train and equip Filipino army units.

This time, the Pentagon is admitting that U.S. troops will be engaged not in a training mission but rather "a sustained combat operation with no pre-set termination date."

The new deployment calls for U.S. military special operations teams and 400 support personnel to begin arriving on the island of Jolo in the southern Sulu Archipelago immediately, with the rest of the American force likely to follow on the island of Mindanao in about a month.

In addition, two U.S. amphibious assault ships with 1,300 sailors and 1,000 Marines armed with Cobra attack helicopters and Harrier AV-8B planes will sail from Japan to provide aviation support, logistical assistance and medical help and also serve as a "quick reaction" back-up force.