Feb 232013

3 October 2008


Biazon did not find ‘US bases’ in Zambo because he was looking for the wrong kind US bases in the south different from Subic and Clark, says think-tank

“If Senator Rodolfo Biazon was looking for US military bases such as the ones the US had in Subic and Clark, then he really was not going to find them. What the US now has in Zamboanga City are military bases of the new, more sophisticated kind. Unlike in the past, these bases hide within local military bases, they don’t fly the American flag, they have more austere facilities but are no less of a “base” in their functions.”

This was the reaction of researcher Herbert Docena of the Bangkok-based international think-tank Focus on the Global South to Senator Biazon’s claim that there are no US bases in the South after the latter visited facilities in Zamboanga City last October 2.

Docena, author of a number of reports on the issue has been monitoring and researching the US military presence in the Philippines and in the region for the last six years.

According to Docena, who has analyzed US military planning and actions, the US since 2001, has been attempting to transform its global network of military presence to become both more agile and less visible at the same time.

“In line with this, the US has been trying in various places to move away from large fortress-like city-sized bases such as the ones the US had in Subic and Clark in favor of smaller spartan structures – especially in those places where opposition to US military presence is strong.” Docena explained.

“What matters to the US is less the size of the structure than its ability to support military US operations.” Referring to the fact that the US uses the local civilian airport or docking piers, Docena pointed out that, “It does not matter whether the facility displays the American flag – what’s important is that they are assured of being able to use it when they want to.”

“This strategy has been referred to as the ‘lily-pad strategy’ by some and we know for a fact that the US has started implementing this strategy,” Docena said. “The Joint Special Operations Task Force –Philippines (JSOTF-P) fits the template of the new generation of US military presence that Pentagon strategists have been arguing for and putting in place around the world. “

Docena, who has personally seen the JSOTF-P base inside Camp Navarro from the outside, maintains that even though it is far smaller than Subic and Clark – and it is indeed within a Philippine military camp – it is still US military base for all intents and purposes.

“While supporters of US military presence in the Philippines can be expected not to label a ‘base’ as a ‘base’ lest they admit to violating the constitution, US officials and soldiers themselves have had no problems using the word ‘base’ to describe what they have in the Philippines,” Docena argued.

He reiterated that the Overseas Basing Commission, an official US government body has categorically listed the Philippines as one of the countries were the US has been developing “cooperative security locations” – a category of US bases.  US troops who are stationed in the Philippines also call the base they operate from in Mindanao as “Advance Operating Base.”

“A US military base construction unit’s recent awarding of a P3-billion out of a P10-billion-plus contract for the JSOTF-P that lasts at least until 2012 only buttresses the view that the US military’s stay in Mindanao is not meant to be temporary,” Docena said. “By then,” he adds, “they will have been stationed in Mindanao for ten years and no exit-date has yet been set.”#

Reference: Herbert Docena, 09178874372, herbert@focusweb.org

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Oct. 3rd 2008

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