Carter visit marks heightened US intervention and war-mongering

Communist Party of the Philippines
April 16, 2016

The April 13-15 visit of US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was an outright display of contempt of Philippine sovereignty and US high-handedness. It marks heightened US intervention in the Philippines and war-mongering in the Asia-Pacific region.

The visit of Carter which coincided with the closing ceremonies of the Balikatan 2016 served as an opportunity for saber-rattling and war provocations. It aimed to further entrench the interventionist US military troops in the Philippines and taunt China with a display of military power.

To the Aquino regime, Carter’s visit is relevant as it serves as an affirmation of its master’s support. Carter is currently the US imperialists’ baton wielder orchestrating the deployment and build-up of the giant US machinery in accordance with its Asia pivot aims of further fortifying US military power in the Asia-Pacific region to protect US economic and trade interests and contain the military and economic expansion of China.

1. The 10-day Balikatan 2016 joint exercises saw close to 5,000 US troops descend on Philippine soil to flaunt their war machinery with the aim of projecting US military power in the country and the Asia-Pacific region. It served the aim of the US military to display, promote and test its latest military assets, particularly the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), in the hope of further stimulating the market for US war commodities.

The Balikatan 2016 exercises also served to further raise the interventionist capability of the US military by tightening its control and command mechanisms over the Philippine armed forces. By involving the AFP’s Northern Luzon Command, Southern Luzon, Central Command, Western Command, and the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region, the US military further established its command authority over the ground commanders of the AFP in Luzon and Visayas.

Priorly, the US military has established such command and control mechanisms over the Mindanao-based area commands of the AFP where US military advisers and ground troops have led and participated in intelligence, psywar, and combat operations against the Bangsamoro fighters and the New People’s Army over the past 15 years.

The Balikatan 2016 further promoted US disaster interventionism. To justify the deployment of large numbers of interventionist US troops, their operations and trainings are described as “humanitarian assistance and disaster response.”

Under this tactic, the US aims to soften the image of its military by conducting cheap publicity-stunts such as school repair, food drops, blood-letting etc. making use of its gargantuan budget of several hundred billion dollars. On the other hand, it militarizes disaster operations, once the realm of civilian public agencies and private organizations, and subjects these to international conflict.

2. After the Balikatan 2016, Carter later proceeded to board the USS John C. Stennis warship. On boarding the US aircraft carrier, Carter ordered its crew to make provocative approaches to the disputed islands and maritime formations in the area.

For around a month now, the USS Stennis group of warships has been sailing back and forth across the South China Sea and the entire Asia-Pacific region in complete disregard of Philippine territorial sovereignty.

Without notice to Philippine officials, the USS Stennis warship has sailed into Philippine waters, docked at Subic port and made the Philippines as base of its operations. As expected of the puppet regime, Aquino’s officials have raised no opposition and have even welcomed the unannounced entry of US warships into Philippine sovereign territory.

In October last year, Carter also ordered another US warship, the USS Lassen, to make similar approaches to the disputed areas which the US hypocritically describe as “innocent passages” and part of its “freedom of navigation operations”. Last January, Carter also ordered the USS Curtis Wilbur to challenge the territorial claims of China and Vietnam over the Parcel islands in the South China Sea.

So-called freedom of navigation operations are unilateral US military manoeuvres that specifically aim to challenge the sovereignty claims of countries under the UNCLOS, which considers the waters within 12 nautical miles of a coastal state as part of its territorial sea. This include the territorial waters claimed by the Philippines under UNCLOS, which the US does not recognize and fear may be used to block US assertion of its military might and hegemony and impede the flow of trade of US commodities.

Carter and his boss Barack Obama are big liars when they claim that the deployment of US military forces in the South China Sea are part of its ‘ironclad’ commitment to defend Philippine sovereignty. These public statements are mere image building rhetoric that aim to have the Filipino people accept US violations of Philippine sovereignty.

In his December 22, 2015 report to the US Senate on the USS Lassen’s “freedom of navigation operations”, Sec. Carter was unequivocal in declaring that US military operations in the South China Sea are not in defense of Philippine sovereignty. He said: “The United States does not take a position on which nation has the superior sovereignty claims over each land feature in the Spratly Islands.”

3. Carter has been vigorously pushing for increased presence of US troops in the Philippines. Just before flying to Manila, he declared that the US military will have access to more than five military camps initially indentified under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

To have the EDCA acceptable, officials of the US and Aquino regime have been describing it as a means to strengthen the capabilities of the Philippine military. In reality, the EDCA is nothing more than a military bases agreement to allow US military forces to use the country as a platform for its interventionist and aggressive operations within the Asia-Pacific region. For more than half a century of “military alliance” with the US, the AFP remains as
one of the weakest militaries in the world.

Revealing imperial high-handedness, Carter described the US bases under EDCA as “our favorite way of having a presence, for US forces to operate in and out of the Philippines, in support of our allies, of our broader networks of friends and allies in the region.” Carter’s description of US troops in its military bases as “rotational” is a thin veil that fails to hide the fact that US military troops are, in fact, permanently present in the Philippines. With the Visiting Forces Agreement and the EDCA, the Philippine now serves as one big military base for the US where its warships, jetfighters and troops can come and go anytime the US military wishes.

That the Philippines and the US government are friends is a sham! That the EDCA further cements this alliance and will help strengthen the country’s defense is a double sham! So-called friendship with US imperialism has condemned the Philippines to a perpetual state of backwardness and dependence. If anything, the EDCA has served only to reinforce the status of the Philippines as a subaltern, further relegated as a base for the forward deployment of US forces and for launching its power-projection operations in exchange for the “priviledge” of buying obsoleted US military junk.

The Communist Party of the Philippines condemns heightened US military and political intervention in the Philippines. It upholds the Filipino people’s aspiration for national and social liberation. The CPP and the revolutionary forces support the demand to abrogate such unequal military treaties as the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and the EDCA.

The CPP stands for an end to the presence of US interventionist troops and war materiél in the Philippines.

The CPP joins the Filipino people in opposing the establishment of military bases under the EDCA. The CPP calls on the Filipino people to wage political mass struggles against the AFP camps hosting US military facilities.

The CPP has also instructed the New Poeple’s Army to launch armed offensives against AFP forces serving as perimeter guards of US interventionist troops.