THE PHILIPPINE MAY ELECTIONS AND THE IRAQ WAR
In a few days, Filipinos will be trooping to the 234,259 polling stations to vote their president, vice president, senators, representatives in the House of Representatives, Governors, Mayors, Councilors and party-list representatives in Congress. At stake are positions for 17,000 local officials, 250 congressmen, 12 Senators, a Vice President and President of the Republic. Surely, it will be a hotly contested election, with five presidential candidates all claiming that they can lead the country to prosperity and greatness. But, why is it that none of the presidential candidates are making an issue of Philippine involvement in the occupation of Iraq? Is the Iraq war and the Philippine involvement with foreign occupation forces not an issue?
Why is the Philippines involved in helping “stabilize” the situation in Iraq so that American and British companies can peacefully help themselves with the country’s vast oil resources and reserves? Why is the Philippines more concerned about doing business with the occupation forces to get a share of the loot, so to speak, like subcontracting on construction projects, etc. Have we no principles to question the very fundamental why the Iraqi people–Sunni, Shiites, and even Kurdish Iraqis are fighting the U.S. and British occupation forces in at least 30-35 encounters a day all over Iraq?
Do we not have enough peace and order problems in our own backyard that we have to send troops to another country to help stabilize the peace and order problem there?
In the coming elections, the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) itself admits that there are 500 cities and towns nationwide that are classified as “hotspots” in the coming elections. Furthermore, the statistics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines itself show that there are a total of 114 private armed groups all over the country either fighting the government or engaged in criminal activities. 78 of these private armed groups are in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao(ARMM). These private armed groups exclude the mainstream forces of the Communist Party of the Philippines whose New People’s Army guerillas are fighting government forces in more than 120 guerilla zones in more than 60 provinces. In central mindanao, the guerilla forces of the the bangsamoro people are also active in the form of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF).
Then there is the very question of the safety and welfare of the overseas Filipino contract workers in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. The Philippine government is actually endangering their safety by its commitment to U.S. occupation forces as well as commitment to U.S. foreign and military policy in the Middle East. Also, to be entangled in America’s imperial policies in the Middle East can also bring the war right to our very shores, like what happened to Spain because of its involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
No doubt, George Bush and his British subject, Blair desperately need allies to project a “multinational effort” in their invasion of Iraq. They need additional cannon fodder to their own soldiers to pacify what they call “insurgents” and “terrorists” in Iraq. But the people of Iraq know better.
They know that as long as 135,000 U.S. troops and 7,000 British troops and tokens of Australian, Polish, Italian troops among others, occupy Iraqi soil, the only government that will be installed in Iraq will be a puppet government. The invading army of the Americans will be pulling the strings under the command of the U.S. Ambassador and his military commander. And if there are elections in Iraq, will the U.S. and British invaders allow a leader who is not their puppet to win the elections?
The people of Iraq will continue to resist the invaders. There will be more Fallujahs, Najafs, Basras. And, by the way, did you know that that place which has been repeatedly mentioned before as the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, Takreet(now Tikrit), is also the birthplace of Saladin, the legendary Islamic leader who united the Arabs and
who successfully fought and defeated the Third Crusade(1187-1192) led by Richard the Lionheart? It seems that this will not be the first time that many foreign infidels will be buried on Iraq’s sacred soil.
Philippine Parallels to American Atrocities in Iraq
It is difficult to believe that the reported abuses and tortures committed by U.S. military forces in Iraq are isolated cases and do not reflect American policy overseas. The My Lai Massacres in Vietnam(1962-1975) and the Samar Massacres during the Philippine-American War(1899-1913) which the Pentagon referred to as a “Philippine Insurrection” show the ferocity of American military campaigns to suppress Vietnamese and Filipino nationalist resistance to U.S. intervention and occupation. Let us look at the few Philippine parallels:
Between 1900 onwards, some 126,468 US combat troops came to the Philippines to suppress the newly-born First Philippine Republic and Government under President Emilio Aguinaldo. In this war, the US perfected anti-people and anti-guerrilla practices which have been universally condemned, such as the practice of torture, summary execution and strategic hamlets. Strategic hamlets were then called reconcentrations, and were later to be adopted six decades later by American forces in Vietnam.
American military forces in the Philippines used torture and conducted retaliatory shooting of prisoners and created concentration camps for Filipino civilians. Morbid accounts of the American pacification campaign were cited by an American historian Stuart Miller based on letters of American soldiers relatives back home:
One American soldier bragged in a letter that they were shooting Filipino men, women and children “like rabbits”. A certain Lieutenant Hall reported that General Funston had all Filipino prisoners shot “as a matter of course” and described how one was “wasted” while he was on his knees pleading for his life.
Another American soldier freely confessed to his mother that he had used the “water cure” on 106 Filipinos, all but 26 of whom had died in the process. The “water cure” was the favorite method of torture. The victim was placed on his back and forced to swallow huge amounts of water, often salted. Periodically, a soldier jumped on his distended stomach; and the process was started over again. When the victim did confess, he was usually shot and his village burned. It was the custom of American occupation troops to avenge the death of an American soldier by burning to the ground all the houses and killing right and left “natives” who were mere suspects.
Another account from a letter of a veteran of the Philippine-American war describes how two Filipino town mayors, accused of cooperating with Filipino independence guerrillas, were beated to death by American soldiers withs rattan rods in an unsuccessful attempt to extract confessions of collusion with the guerrilas. A certain Captain Rown gave an account that, in response to the assassination of an American corporal in his company, was that he not only had the “assassin” executed, but also burned down his entire village and a neighboring village as well. What was not given prominence in this particular account was that the corporal had also raped the girlfriend of the “assassin”, and that the second village burned was the home of the rape victim. Note: forwarded message attached.
In 1902, the Philadelphia Ledger carried an eye witness account of large-scale retaliatory killings of Filipino civilians by Americans:
“American troops have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women and children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people, from lads of 10 and up…have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered;p and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one to drop into the water below and float down as examples to those who find their bullet-ridden corpses.”
History, my friends, is repeating itself in Iraq. Iraq today was U.S. Policy in the Philippines a Century Ago. (see photo of Bud Dajo massacre perpetuated by U.S. troops in Mindanao,Philippines , http://www.com/ai/ailtexts/mm_featarms.html (dead link now )
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)