Protest Against U.S.-Philippine Military Exercises

July 28, 2002

On July 22, tens of thousands of people in Manila demonstrated against on-going military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines.

As Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave her "state of the nation" address to Congress, thousands of protestors gathered outside the building, demanding an end to U.S. "counter-terrorism" exercises.

In her speech, Arroyo said the Philippines would "enhance our strategic relationship with the United States through continuing training exercises." Outside, Filipino riot police, backed by water cannons, charged the crowd with truncheons, injuring and arresting dozens of demonstrators.

The Philippines was the second country to which the Bush administration formally extended its "war against terrorism."

Since January of this year, the Bush administration has sent some $100 million and more than 1,000 troops to train and equip Filipino army units. In blatant violation of the Philippine constitution, these U.S. troops have already been involved in several combat operations inside the country.

Several thousand additional U.S. troops have been engaged in continuous joint military "exercises" with Filipino troops since April. U.S. and Filipino military officials have already announced that a new round of joint operations will begin in October.

These joint U.S.-Filipino military maneuvers and combat missions are widely opposed by the Filipino people and are seen as an assault on Filipino sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Ever since the beginning of the 20th century, when U.S. imperialism occupied the Philippines by force of arms, the Filipino people have fought continuously against U.S. colonialism and militarism. In the 1980's the people's struggle forced U.S. troops and bases to leave the country. But today, U.S. imperialism is using the so-called "war on terrorism" to again dramatically increase its direct military presence in the country.

U.S. troops are in the Philippines to 1) prop up the reactionary, pro-U.S. government and suppress the popular struggles for genuine independence and social progress 2) use the Philippines as a base for projecting U.S. military power throughout the Asia-Pacific region.