U.S.-R.P. Military Exercises in Mindanao a Tripwire to a New Vietnam?

Statement of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,

January 19, 2002

By sending 650 U.S. combat troops, including 160 Green Berets and Navy Seals, with the approval of the puppet Macapagal regime, into a battle zone in Southern Philippines, U.S. imperialism is deliberately setting up a tripwire to a new Vietnam. The lame excuse is a joint military operation, dubbed Balikatan Exercise, against the CIA and AFP creation, the Abu Sayyaf group. The interventionist troops will be using live bullets, staying for six months up to a year, and authorized to fire back in so-called self defence.

U.S. troops are not only in Mindanao, they are also setting up quarters in Laur, Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon.

The advocate of the failed all-out war against Mindanao under the discredited Estrada regime, General Angelo Reyes, let the cat out of the bag by announcing that after the Abu Sayyaf, the New People's Army (NPA) would be the next target.

In their arrogance, U.S. imperialism and the Macapagal regime trample on the Manila government's own constitution that forbids the entry of foreign troops except when a treaty allows it. The puppet Macapagal regime cites the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as the justification for the entry of the U.S. combat troops. But the VFA even under the Manila government's standards cannot be regarded as a treaty. The U.S. Senate has not ratified it. Moreover the VFA does not allow U.S. troops to join combat patrols.

The Macapagal regime's reference to the Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT) of 1953 is likewise flawed, since the constitutional processes required by the MDT have not been fulfilled. Vice President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teofisto Guingona of the Manila government was not even informed of the approval of the so-called Balikatan War Games. He has also complained against unilateral acts of U.S. military forces in the Philippines in violation even of the VFA since the middle of last year. The VFA, MDT and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) are among the anti-national and anti-people agreements and treaties that must be abrogated.

For the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the ominous presence of the U.S. interventionist troops is a flagrant violation of the national sovereignty of the Filipino people and the territorial integrity of the Philippines. The broadest united front of patriotic and progressive forces in the Philippines and in the international community must be mobilized to vigorously oppose and resist this latest U.S. intervention in the Philippines that threatens to become a U.S. war of aggression against the Filipino people. The American people and their anti-imperialist and progressive organizations, just as during the Vietnam War, must stand up and defy this U.S. imperialist intervention against the Filipino people.

Our history is filled with lessons about U.S. imperialist treachery and aggression. On February 4, 1899, the U.S. started the Philippine-American War by initiating an encounter with Filipino revolutionary forces. It used the false allegation that Filipino troops would start killing all foreign residents in Manila on February 15, 1899. U.S. imperialism sent more than 126,000 troops to pacify the Filipino people and caused the death of up to 1.4 million Filipinos from 1899 to 1913. A great number of the Bangsamoro were also killed in Mindanao.

U.S. intervention in Vietnam started with the sending of advisers and trainers, followed by combat troops. In the Philippines all these are coming in one go. The U.S. manufactured the Tonkin Gulf Incident to justify its war of aggression. Now it uses the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. to wage a so-called global war on terrorism. The Abu Sayyaf group, their own creation in collaboration with their assets in the Philippine military, is their convenient excuse to intervene militarily again in the Philippines.

Whatever U.S. imperialism uses to justify its intervention or aggression, the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are determined to persevere in their struggle against U.S. imperialism and the local reactionaries in order to achieve their national and social liberation.