January 22, 2017
The Philippine government has kept the Filipino people in the dark about Operation Pacific Eagle: Philippines, a new US-“counter terror” operation in the country which aims to maintain active US military presence in the region. The operation was launched by the US as early as September 2017, yet the Duterte government has kept silent about it.
The US Special Operations Command had listed the Philippines among its priorities for military intervention along with Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Africa. The vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva, testifying before the US Senate Armed Services Committee in July 17, 2017 said that the United States should consider restarting a named military operation in the Philippines, similar to Operation Enduring Freedom, in order to counter the rise of the Islamic State.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the US has embarked on an Overseas Contingency Operation in the Philippines as early as September 2017, or two months after defense officials sought a named-operation in the country.
The revelation that the US is again engaged in a named-operation in the Philippines similar to Operation Enduring Freedom- Philippines in 2002 raises a lot of questions on the involvement of the US in a direct combat role in our country, a flagrant violation of the Philippine Constitution. The last time the US launched its operations, it also resulted in the permanent presence of 600 US troops in Mindanao for more than 15 years, even without a basing treaty as required by the Constitution. The uninterrupted presence of US forces in Mindanao engaged in various unspecified activities including direct combat participation, is a gross violation of our national sovereignty.
In the case of Marawi, the US through its exclusive control of surveillance equipment, practically directed the conduct of the war. This included almost daily aerial bombings that leveled the city.
The Duterte government should break its silence about Operation Pacific Eagle. Was the US also the one that recommended that Martial Law in Mindanao be extended to 1 year, to allow unhampered US intervention and basing? What are the terms of reference for armed US troops conducting operations in Mindanao? The Philippine government has declared victory in Marawi, so why allow continued US military intervention?What does this say about Duterte’s so-called independent foreign policy? This seems to be more of the same subservient foreign policy we saw with past puppet regimes. How long will US troops be allowed to engage in direct military operations in the Philippines?
It must be pointed out that the US merely uses “counter-terrorism” as pretext for its permanent basing and power projection in the region. The US continues to advance its imperialist agenda in Asia and may be using the conflict in Mindanao to gain a more permanent foothold in the Philippines.
The Philippine Senate Foreign Relations Committee should also look into this new US operation as it did previous operations during the term of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. The Senate should look into how the US is circumventing the treaty requirements on foreign basing through its so-called Overseas Contingency Operations that provide the deployment of an unlimited number of troops to engage in unspecified activities for an undetermined period of time. ###