Mar 032013
 

DIALOGUE

ON U.S. INTERVENTION IN MINDANAO CONFLICT

Reply to questions put forward by Mr. Jan Kockritz, graduate student from Germany.

MR. Kokritz:

Which US institutional players have a stake in shaping US-Philippine counterterrorism cooperation? Are there any disagreements? Or is PACOM dominating the issue unchallenged (other players: Bush-Administration, State Department, Congress, CIA, FBI, Pentagon, USAID, US Institute for Peace)

Prof. Simbulan:

YES, ALL OF THESE ARE INSTITUTIONAL PLAYERS SERVING U.S. INTERESTS. THEY SERVE ONE PURPOSE: TO ADVANCE AND EXPAND U.S. ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND MILITARY INTERESTS AS A GLOBAL SUPERPOWER MANAGING A MODERN EMPIRE. THEIR DISAGREEMENTS ARE QUITE PERIPHERAL AT ANY GIVEN TIME, WHETHER TO USE HARD POWER OR SOFT POWER AS A STRATEGY  AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT.

Mr. Kokritz:

What are the US strategic interest and its approach towards the conflict in Mindanao?

Prof. Simbulan:

IN THIS CASE, U.S. STRATEGIC INTEREST IS REGIONAL, NAMELY TO PROTECT ITS VITAL SEALANES AND TRADE ROUTES IN THE MALACCA STRAITS FROM ANY FORM OF THREAT INCLUDING THOSE FROM ISLAMIC GROUPS IN INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA, AND ON THE LONG TERM, AGAINST  CHINA WHICH STILL HAS TO EMERGE AS A RIVAL MILITARY POWER .

Mr. Kokritz:

Please clarify the undertaken effort of the State Department via the Embassy in using the Institute of Peace for negotiating directly with the MILF in the Mindanao conflict settlement. 

Prof. Simbulan:

THE USIP IS FUNDED MAINLY BY THE U.S.GOVERNMEMT. ITS KEY PEOPLE AND BOARD ARE DOMINATED BY PAST AND PRESENT U.S. CIVILIAN AND MILITARY OFFICIALS. NEED WE SAY MORE HOW IT IS USED?

Mr. Kokritz:

There was a Security Engagement Board (SEB) established in 2006- What are its major functions and in which way it contributes to the other vehicles of US-Philippine Security Cooperation (Mutual Defence Treaty, VFA)

Prof. Simbulan:

THE SEB HAS EXPANDED THE CONCERNS OF THE U.S. IN THE PHILIPPINES WHICH WERE LIMITED BY THE MUTUAL DEFENSE BOARD. NOW U.S. INTERVENTION IN PHILIPPINE INTERNAL AFFAIRS CAN BE PLACED UNDER THE COVER OF ANTI-NARCOTICS, HUMANITARIAN AND DISASTER ASSISTANCE AND TRAINING, ETC.

Mr. Kokritz:

The Kapit Bisig Framework of the Security Engagement Board- please describe its origin, substance and purpose.

Prof. Simbulan:

KAPIT BISIG (LOCKED ARMS) IS JUST A SYNONYM OF BALIKATAN, WHICH MEANS SHOULDER TO SHOULDER.  A PLAY OF SEMANTICS, BUT IT’S ALL THE SAME, A COVER FOR U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION AND COVERT OPERATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES.

Mr. Kokritz:

My Optional question is the regional implications of the US Government War on Terror within southeast Asia. Is the US fearing the visible rapprochement between China and the Philippines, China and Indonesia and even China and Malaysia in military cooperations and strategic partnerships? Is there any reason to be scared?

If we consider Southeast Asia as a strategic arena, or in other words role theatre, how would you describe the contemporary roles of global, regional and local players like the US, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia within it? 

Prof. Simbulan:

YOUR TWO QUESTIONS ARE SEEN FROM A U.S. PERSPECTIVE WHICH I CANNOT AGREE WITH SINCE I AM NOT AN AMERICAN BUT A FILIPINO.

FROM A PHILIPPINE PERSPECTIVE AND NATIONAL INTEREST, WE SHOULD DEAL EQUALLY WITH THE MAJOR PLAYERS WHO HAVE TO COMPETE FOR OUR INTERESTS. IF CHINA CAN PROVIDE BETTER TERMS IN TRADE, AID, MILITARY ASSISTANCE, THEN IT IS BETTER THAT WE FOCUS ON THAT COUNTRY FOR OUR BILATERAL RELATIONS. THE U.S. CANNOT PRETEND TO BE OUR HISTORIC AND SPECIAL PARTNER IF IT DOES NOT GIVE US BETTER TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN TERMS OF TRADE, AID, MILITARY ASSISTANCE, ETC.. OUR FOREIGN RELATIONS AS FILIPINOS SHOULD BE CONDUCTED IN A WAY THAT BEST SERVES OUR NATIONAL NEEDS AND PEOPLE’S NEEDS, WITHOUT COMPROMISING OUR SOLIDARITY WITH PEOPLES OF OTHER DEVELOPING NATIONS.

 

 

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 Jan 2nd 2009

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