THE BUSH VISIT: BUYING PEACE IN MINDANAO
(The Gathering for Peace Statement on the visit of US President George W. Bush Jr. to the Philippines)
While the country’s leaders prepare to welcome the US President so are the anti- war banners unfurling at the forefront of the surging peace movements in the Asia- Pacific. The visit marks the first sortie in the Asia- Pacific of the US president to consolidate its waning influence on the “borderless anti- terror campaign” it has launched after the 9/11 incident.
With the recent collapse of the recent Cancun WTO ministerial conference and gradual loss of influence over its allies over the global anti-terror drive, it is expected that the U.S. shall use the G8 Summit in Japan to exert pressure on other members to toe its line. The U.S. president’s nine-day swing through six nations of Asia-Pacific shall bring him to the Philippines on October 18. His visit clearly indicates the U.S.’ unequivocal support for Pres. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo which has established the country as the “second front” in the global anti- terror war. The visit also signifies an endorsement for the country’s beleaguered president in the 2004 presidential elections.
Bush’s endorsement covers not only its support for GMA in 2004 but the visit also aims to push the U.S. agenda in Mindanao. While the U.S. may seem supportive of the peace efforts in Mindanao, on the other hand, its interest in Mindanao is but a part of its global anti- terror strategy.
The U.S. interventionist tack is not so unlike its “carrot and stick” pacification campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan. As in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan , the U.S. has already given a substantial amount to the Philippines for the Mindanao rehabilitation and development. It has also signified its intent to deploy U.S. troops for “peacekeeping” efforts while the talks between the GRP and the MILF are ongoing.
We believe that both the Philippine and U.S. government’s incessant hyping of the specter of an “international terrorist bogey”, the conduct of “Balikatan Exercises” with the U.S. military and its policy of buying peace in Mindanao serves only a single purpose: to build a permanent base for expanding its military presence in Southeast Asia.
Bush’s visit marks the sixth time that a U.S. President visited the country. Unlike in the past however, where people lined up the streets to welcome a benefactor, this time around, the visit shall greeted by scores of protest action. The growing anti- war and anti- globalization sentiments of the Filipinos underscores need for a our leaders to take a moral and just stand on issues of U.S. intervention in the country.
The Gathering for Peace call on our leaders to oppose the interventionist policies of the U.S. in the country and we call on all Filipinos to unite and uphold Philippine patrimony and sovereignty.
Gathering for Peace
October 13, 2003
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 in 2003