Ang Bayan Editorial: US Imperialism Is No Friend Of The Filipino People

Ang Bayan

June 7, 2024

Grand pronouncements of being a “friend, partner and ally” or its “ironclad commitment” to “defend the Philippines” are all part of US schemes to manipulate the minds of the Filipino people. At various stages during the past history of more than one hundred years, the US has repeatedly claimed to be on the side of the Filipino people in their struggle for independence. Just as it claimed to have ended the 300-year Spanish occupation of the Philippines, or expelled Japan in World War II, US imperialism now also claims it will defend the Philippines against China.

On the occasion of the 126th anniversary of the Philippines’ declaration of false independence, it is only fitting that the Filipino people re-examine the entire history of US imperialism’s occupation and domination of the Philippines, its deception, oppression of the people and plunder of the country’s wealth.

More than ever, these US lies must be exposed in the face of the growing threat to the security of the Philippines as the US stokes war in the South China Sea against its imperialist rival China. With the Marcos puppet regime, the US is pushing this part of the world to the brink of armed conflict. This can be compared to its actions of fomenting the war in Ukraine against Russia and supporting Israel in its genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, both of which have resulted in widespread destruction and the loss of tens of thousands of lives.

Today’s tensions in the South China Sea are a direct result of US imperialism’s 2011 “pivot to Asia” strategy to confront and challenge China’s growing economic and military power. As the US intensifies its economic and trade confrontation with its rival, it is also increasingly challenging China with arms, especially by strengthening its military presence in the islands or countries closest to China’s periphery.

The US has been steadily increasing its military presence in the South China Sea. In the past year, three US carrier strike groups (the USS Nimitz, USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan), each carrying up to 7,500 troops, have entered the South China Sea and repeatedly circled it for 30-35 days. Naval ships of the US often enter the Bashi Channel between the Philippines and Taiwan and circles the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

In addition, there are all kinds of US warships, 11 nuclear-armed submarines, countless aircraft and other equipment, and thousands of American troops in the South China Sea and other seas around China, carrying out various maneuvers, training and reconnaissance missions. In the past year alone, the US has conducted at least 1,000 sorties and bombing raids, including 100 close approaches to Chinese shores which almost resulted in skirmishes.

The US works with its henchmen in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for operations in the South China Sea. The US built 17 new military bases in 17 locations, including nine within AFP camps under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), to serve as weapons depots, troop rest areas, and possibly missile launching bases. Several ships have already been sold or transferred by the US to the AFP for use by the Philippine Navy alongside US operations.

To ensure its own security, China has increased its presence in the South China Sea. Since 2013, it has built at least seven military facilities in the Spratly Islands, including three that fall within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China has become so paranoid that it deployed Coast Guard vessels to claim the Scarborough Shoal, which has a long history of serving as common fishing grounds for Filipinos and Chinese. China is trampling on the Philippine rights, particularly those of Filipino small fishermen.

China is also now aggressively pushing Philippine compliance with its pledge (made since the time of Arroyo) not to build a permanent structure at the Ayungin Shoal. This is in response to brazen violations of such pledge when the AFP started to bring construction materials in March 2023 during its “supply missions” to the BRP Sierra Madre. The Philippines’ claim to Ayungin, upheld by the International Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) should be duly raised by the Philippines in formal dialogue with China. Instead, Marcos and the AFP are now resorting to provocative military actions, at the behest of the US, to which China has responded in an aggressive and hostile manner.

Provocations by the US heighten tension between the Philippines and China, particularly over their maritime territorial boundaries, issues that should be addressed in peaceful negotiations, or even in the legal or diplomatic arena, now being made difficult by US military buildup. Instead of pushing the country’s own interests in promoting peaceful coexistence with China and other neighboring countries, Marcos is dutifully following his US imperialist master and allowing the Philippines to be dragged and used as an instrument for stoking war.

In the face of the current situation, the Filipino people realize that US imperialism is not their friend, partner or ally, now or in the past. The US acts not in pursuit of Philippine interest or of any other country, but of its own interest to impose hegemony in all parts of the world.

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