U.S. forces have teamed up with the Philippines’ military to combat terrorist groups in the country, ostensibly to bring about peace. But numerous human rights violations have sprung up in their wake and some believe that the U.S.’ ultimate goal may be to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
by Joe Catron
As United States special forces near their third week in Marawi, a city on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, observers say their participation in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ battle to reclaim the city from the ISIS (Daesh)-linked Maute group was also aimed at reinforcing more than a century of U.S. control over the Philippines, which was its colony from 1899 until 1946.
“The U.S. seeks to consolidate and maintain the Philippines as its semi-colony, wherein it can avail itself of cheap raw materials (minerals, oil, natural gas), a cheap labor force, a dumping ground for its surplus US products, as well as protect its billions in investments in corporate agribusiness, military production and even healthcare, education, and public utilities such as telecommunications and energy,” said Bernadette Ellorin, a grassroots human rights activist and chairperson of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of U.S.-based progressive Filipino organizations.
A 2006 U.S. intelligence assessment said Mindanao could hold mineral resources worth between $840 billion and $1 trillion, or as much as 70 percent of the Philippines’ total mineral wealth.
The island is also the site of enduring conflicts between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the indigenous Lumad and Moro peoples, as well as the leftist New People’s Army.
Peace talks between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the leftist National Democratic Front of the Philippines have stretched on for decades. But they quickly disappeared from headlines when Maute seized Marawi on May 23, after an attempt by the GRP to arrest the leader of another Daesh affiliate, the Abu Sayyaf group.
But many fear that the goal of the U.S.’ current intervention is to strengthen the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their bid to repress these popular movements, as well as Maute and Abu Sayyaf.
“The U.S. objective in Marawi and in Mindanao is to go after and crush the revolutionary armed movement in the region including the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination, rebrand the [Communist Party of the Philippines]-NPA as terrorists to the international community, and derail the peace process that was resumed under the Duterte administration,” Ellorin said.