Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Double Fasten Your Seatbelt by Erick San Juan

The US and Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX 13) was formally opened aboard the USS Bonehomme Richard in Subic Bay, Zambales on October 8 and will last until October 18. It is a regularly scheduled exercise hosted annually by the Republic of the Philippines (as reported by different news agencies).

As per news release from the defense department, PHIBLEX 13 is the 29th iteration in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security by ensuring interoperability and readiness of Philippine and US forces.

“This year’s exercise will focus on improving interoperability for humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions which are critical in the Ring of Fire,” US Ambassador to the Philippine Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said.

As if the Philippines has just recently included in the Ring of Fire, 'WTF' that this centuries-old fact had to be mentioned in this year’s PHIBLEX anyway? Is there something new here that we haven’t heard before?

As what US Navy officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Camp Aguinaldo reporters, "that the US military continuously conducts port calls and other military activities in various countries in the region to guard against possible bullying by China".

 “We need to maintain presence in the area so that you will not be bullied by China and Iran,” added the US officer. (Source: tribune.net)

And so another reason is to show support to the AFP (armed Forces of the Philippines) against the bullying of China… and (now) Iran? Why Iran?

Being an ally of Uncle Sam in this part of the Pacific, it is giving me the nightmares. We are like a giant magnet attracting enemies we had acquired in the process of being a pawn to a possible war games.

The big picture is getting clearer now. of how crucial the role of our country to the so-called ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific by Washington and the Pentagon. In my last article. Why Register Your Punches? (can be read @ericksanjuan.blogspot.com), the plan to help our AFP by Uncle Sam was enumerated and the recent development at Subic Bay Freeport is in tune with this plan.

The plan to convert the Subic International Airport complex into a Singapore Sentosa-type family-oriented entertainment and casino resort center has been deferred.

Instead, the airport complex is now being eyed to serve as a forward base for the joint operations of the Philippine Air Force and the United States Air Force Pacific alliance.

The joint operation, according to sources, was aimed at maintaining regional balance in the light of the continuing territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. (Source: Joint PH-US base in the works in Subic, Manila Standard Today 10/03/12)

I have written about this possible return of the bases before when some senior legislators from Washington went here and visited Subic. The turn of events since then has culminated into this forward base in Subic. And we have forward operating bases already in Mindanao – “Since 2002, a unit now called the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP) has been deployed to the southern Philippines. Contrary to the US and Philippine governments efforts to present the troops belonging to the unit as part of temporary training exercises, this unit has maintained its presence in the country continuously… With various military facilities now being constructed for their use, members of the unit refer to their bases in Mindanao as "forward operating base-11" and "advanced operating base-921". (IN THE DRAGON'S LAIR US prowls for China in the Philippines by Herbert Docena).

And there is more to this so-called forward base, the creation of the CSLs. The "Cooperative Security Locations" are technically run and maintained by Manila or private contractors. The Pentagon considers them "US military facilities that may be activated for pre-positioning logistics support and as venues for joint operations with host militaries during actual combat operations."

From the article of Mr. Docena - the indefinite stationing of US troops in the country - have significantly improved the US ability to operate in and from the Philippines, thereby locking the country firmly within the US global posture.

In effect, we are locked (so to speak) and in the crosshairs for possible retaliation from any country perceived as adversary by Uncle Sam. And the present leadership seems to be oblivious to what is happening to our country.

If there is anything that is unconstitutional here is this so-called forward basing and the establishment of the CSLs (a category of military bases in official US parlance). Lest we forget that our country has strictly prohibited the re-establishment of foreign military bases here after 1991, when the US left Subic and Clark.

Sadly, Uncle Sam will always conveniently seek the MDT and VFA in particular to justify their forward bases here. What a convenience in our expense because our legislators has forgotten to pursue the long-standing review (and possible abrogation) of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

If we keep on repeating history, we will end up the witting cannon fodder and worst, we will not even know what hit us. Why? Because the people in the government who supposed to be protecting this nation’s populace seems to be in the ‘noynoying’ mode, translation – the next election, with the same faces and family names, this country is really going to the dogs.

 Double fasten your seatbelts!


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