By Dr. Erick San Juan
With the recent expose by a think-tank group based in Thailand that the U.S. has several new bases in the Philippines, it reminds me of what the Angel & Demon operation is all about.
In my own reading, the Americans badly need permanent bases in the Philippines if they had their way, but foreign bases are not allowed under our 1987 Constitution. For all intent and purposes, U.S. defense planners know how strategically the Philippines is located. Besides, the Philippines is endowed with abundant natural resources. And for one which is very important, majority of the Filipino people are friendly to the Americans. There are also “anti-Americans”, who are actually nationalists who understand the “scheming” op of the U.S. military industrial complex.
While there are no more US bases in the Philippines today, the two countries have skirted the abrogation of the RP-US Defense Treaty of 1951, considering it is allegedly for the benefit of both countries in maintaining regional security in Southeast Asia and North Asia. Under this treaty, the US will help defend the Philippines against external aggression.
By its body language, the US considers that Philippines a vital part of its so-called forward defense strategy. It cannot afford to lose the Philippines all because of the country's strategic location as I have expounded earlier. You may have noticed in the past that every time there is a political upheaval in the Philippines such as coup attempts, the US is always there to pronounce its support one way or the other provided it is for the interest of the US as the bottom line. American interest is always above and foremost.
In the global war against terror the US has legally used its presence of its troops in the Philippines to conduct joint training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Americans have to bring with them their warships, including nuclear-powered vessels and warplanes into the country during the training exercise. The only problem is the U.S. Defense establishment abuse the good relationship by coming in with these nukes without our knowledge. It could endanger us to any external threat and we could be target by U.S. enemies.
Indeed US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was not absolutely right when she said that there are no US bases in the country. The all-year round joint training between American and Filipino forces has enabled US troops to be always present in the Philippines and let their local operators handle their monitoring system. We are not that naïve to observe the circumvention of our Constitution.
Whether we like it or not, Uncle Sam's finger is always dipped into our political system because the Americans have to protect their interest in our beloved country. Such is the reality of geo-politics. Since America is a super power what can we do? We Filipinos are so divided, gullible to manipulation and blackmail.
During the December 1989 coup by the RAM-SFP-YOU, the rebel soldiers led by now Sen. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan almost toppled Cory Aquino's government until a pair of US Phantom jetfighters made a "persuasion flight" over Metro Manila to show America's "support" to President Cory at that time. The entire coup plot tumbled like match sticks. Of course the "persuasion flight" was only part of the whole scenario. Troops loyal to President Aquino led by then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos and AFP chief of staff Gen. Renato S. de Villa significantly made the big difference in a well-executed counter attack to neutralize the RAM-SFP-YOU forces.
But to dig deeper, there is that inner sanctum going on my mind about America's double-edge role in Philippine politics. They can't lose either way. Had the RAM-SFP-YOU won, the US would probably support it because any government always looks up to the US for support – militarily and economically.The putchists felt betrayed by the alleged double cross.
With all this power play in our country ever since it acquired “independence”, even during the time of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine president, America's role in our political system has been there because US interest is at stake.
In the just-ended Manila Peninsula caper where government forces overpowered the outnumbered Magdalo rebel soldiers led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, there seems to be some suspicion of support by the US despite denials by Ambassador Kenney.
Consider what transpired during and after the failed Manila Pen rebellion. Pundits have been asking why PFC Alvin Celestino who has a pending case was able to get a working visa from the US Embassy that easy without any hassle. Is it not the duty of the US Embassy to verify the background of Celestino? With its foolproof and vast information at hand, it is next to impossible not to know the background of Celestino. But Celestno was "fortunate" to possess a US visa. But unfortunately, Celestino was arrested by authorities when he tried to board a plane bound for the US last week. Did US authorities tipped Philippine government about the impending travel of Celestino to the United States and escape from being prosecuted in the Philippines? That's another sham example of geo-politics.