Blackwater in R.P.?
by Erick San Juan
In spite of the fact that the Blackwater was branded as "persona non grata" in Iraq, some of its contractor/personnels will remain in Iraq until September, 2009. It's Filipino recruits according to fresh report were commissioned to secure the oil and gas reserves in Malampaya and soon at the Exxon,s oil exploration in the Sulu seas.
This week,with the U.S. troops turnover of the urban security to their Iraqi counterparts and with the Iraqi police, the militia and the remnants of the Blackwater will be redeployed in Afghanistan and partly, some of its Filipino manpower to be on duty in the "Philippine seas" to protect and secure the Malampaya oil and gas reserves. Though, we're not so sure if the Philippine government has an OK about the said redeployment especially now that our territorial water boundaries has been modified as per agreement with the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas).
If this is confirmed, the Filipino families of these security personnels should be thankful to Romy Redelicia and his associates in giving our so called "soldiers of fortune" a new lifeline to earn a living. The government agencies concerned should make the necessary and proper arrangements with our armed forces and also with the country claimants in the Spratleys to ensure that no mistaken identity nor misencounter could happen which could provoke a shooting war among stakeholders in the area. Redelicia's operation used to have a license to operate but under a new management of Xe, it's still unknown.
Blackwater is a private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. In October, 2007, the company was renamed Blackwater Worldwide with several contractors under its umbrella. Due to several controversies, reported human rights violations in Iraq and compounding damage suits, even coming from its recruits, the company last February 13, 2009 changed its name into Xe Worldwide. Its original headquarter is still the same, which is strategically located at Moyock, North Carolina, USA. J. Cofer Black, the US government's top counter terror expert and a former director of CIA's Counter Terrorist Center who used to visit the Philippines is one of the top honcho of Blackwater. Black in 2002 to 2004 has a rank of an ambassador-at-large. The state of the art private training facility is located at Erik Prince 6,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp on the North Carolina/Virginia border. Erik Prince, its founder and Gary Jackson, its president are both former US Navy Seal.
To cover the bad reputation and put gradual closure to several indictments, the Blackwater changes not only its name to Xe Worldwide but also its top officials. Joseph Yorio was named as its new president replacing Gary Jackson while Danielle Esposito was named the new chief operating officer and executive vice president.
Xe Worldwide is the largest of the US Department of State's private security contractors. Xe's security and maritime units are reportedly deployed at the Malampaya. Greystone, Ltd., a private security service which is registered in Barbados has the authority to employ third world country nationals for offshore security work through its affiliate, Satelles Solutions, Inc. Both are Xe's conduit and sub contractors allegedly authorized to recruit Filipinos. Greystone was rumored to operate at SBMA and at Clark. (Source: Wikipedia)