US-RP military exercise in Bicol signals growing US military intervention in the local civil war

By Communist Party of the Philippines

The plan to conduct the annual Balikatan joint military exercises of US and Philippine military forces in all but one of the Bicol provinces this April signals heightening US military interventionism in the local civil war. In doing so, the US seeks to pave the way for the future regular access of US troops in guerrilla fronts in the Bicol region where the New People's Army (NPA) operates.

The claim by officials of the US military and the puppet government and the AFP that the US forces joining the Balikatan exercises in Bicol will not meddle in the "anti-insurgency" campaign there and will focus purely on humanitarian work is pure hogwash.

The US military does not carry out any operation or mission by any name without specific military objectives. Joint military exercises and "humanitarian missions" only serve as cover for US troops to gain access to the guerrilla fronts to carry out physical and social terrain mapping, conduct surveillance, recruit local agents and influence the local governments and social infrastructure.

Retired General Edilberto Adan, head of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, admitted that in conducting the forthcoming Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, the US military has a specific objective of familiarizing its forces with guerrilla conditions and learning jungle combat operations in the area. An advanced party of US and Philippine military officials have already begun last month their survey of the target areas, picked specifically for their conditions favorable to guerrilla warfare, mostly mountainuous jungle areas with wide access to sea waters.

Since 2001, the US military has been heightening its interventionism in the Philippines, taking advantage of joint military exercises and "humanitarian missions." The US military has kept its presence in the Philippines permanent by rotating troops and stationing them in secluded sections of AFP camps and facilities, and using these as bases for their interventionist operations. Since last year, the US military has been working closely with the AFP in intensifying the war against the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao. They have gone to the extent of launching "dirty-jobs," including "terrorist bombings," to tighten their terror grip on the Filipino people.

The US military has become more and more involved in the AFP's operations against the NPA. Beyond providing the framework of the AFP's Oplan Bantay Laya and giving advice in the counterrevolutionary plans and operations of the puppet forces, the US military has increasingly been providing direct material, technical, intelligence and some combat support to the AFP's counter-guerrilla war and developing interoperability with puppet troops, while familiarizing itself with the conditions of the guerrilla fronts and preparing for the possibility of even wider and more intensified participation of US troops in combat operations.

In the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes within or in the vicinity of NPA guerrilla fronts in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Northeastern and Southern Mindanao regions. Recently, US troops have become increasingly active and visible in the AFP's combat operations against the NPA in Mindanao.

The Communist Party of the Philippines urges the Filipino people to expose and protest the eployment of US troops to more areas of the country, including the Bicol region, using the Balikatan joint exercises as pretext.

NPA units in Bicol are specifically instructed to launch as many tactical offensives as they can in many areas of the region in mockery of the Balikatan exercises and to prevent the US military from strengthening its foothold in the region. NPA units should continue to intensify their tactical offensives against the puppet military forces nationwide.

No amount of US military support will help the puppet regime and armed forces win their antipeople counterrevolutionary war. US support for the AFP's Oplan Bantay Laya has not made the puppet regime and armed forces any more successful in their wish to decimate the armed revolutionary fordces and stop the advance of people's war.

Like the other "counter-insurgency" campaign plans in the past, Oplan Bantay Laya has turned out to be a failure. The people's war is blazing forward, gathering strength, and winning more and more victories.