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Web Letter

While Luis Francia provides a much needed inventory of the horrific consequences of Philippine president Arroyo's support of the Bush Administration, including 900 extrajudicial killings over the past six years, we must broaden our historical view of US-Philippines colonial relations. Francia states that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have "battled the Maoist New People's Army, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for decades without any US advisers on hand." In addition, the United States had a "brief hiatus in the 1990s." Has the US ever left its colonial possession in Southeast Asia?

Since the granting of Philippine "independence" in 1946, all AFP decisions must have approval from the Pentagon. Nineteen forty-seven's Military Bases and Military Assistance Agreements led to the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), which established permanent US military advisers to the AFP. As a result, the US never had a hiatus in the 1990s. The AFP has always been (and continues to be) a vehicle for US military control of Philippine society.

Consequences of US military control have been felt in various ways in the Philippines throughout the decades since "independence": from counterinsurgency efforts (the containment of peasant insurgencies of the 1940s/50s to the extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo administration today) to the development of an oppressive neocolonial society, complete with indigenous elite, US-backed Philippine administrations, widespread poverty and environmental destruction. (See Schirmer and Shalom's The Philippines Reader, an invaluable resource from South End Press.)

It's imperative to grasp the history of US Empire so that we can sharpen our critique and make necessary connections. What we see happening with the occupation of Iraq is very much informed by this history of relentless US control of the Philippines.

Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao

Providence, RI

Jan 14 2008 - 4:07pm

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