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WHOSE COUNTRY IS IT ANYWAY?

by Pesante-USA Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 at 6:22 AM
magsasakapil@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 1740 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, Ca 90026

After 11 years of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the two sides were close to a deal known as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. This was essentially an agreement that would have granted points of autonomy to the Moro people in Mindanao and the Southern Philippines. Just before the signing, the government stopped the negotiations on Sept. 3 and plunged into attack mode. They launched joint police-military offensives against the MILF and civilians. Since then, more than 500,000 people, mostly women and children, have been forced to abandon homes and thrown into refugee camps. Now, one-third of the Philippines is on the verge of erupting into open warfare. I'm not talking about your garden variety guerilla skirmishes here and there. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front and their allies have proven capable of launching conventional maneuvers into the theater in the past. Add to that milieu the very vibrant Communist led New People's Army Southern Command and of course the reactionary group Abu Sayyaf - then you have a situation that could explode into a conflict that could rival the Balkans in the 90's.

PESANTE NEWS

December 19, 2009

WHOSE COUNTRY IS IT ANYWAY?

A Primer on the Conflict in Southern Philippines

by Plaridel Inkana

After 11 years of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the two sides were close to a deal known as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. This was essentially an agreement that would have granted points of autonomy to the Moro people in Mindanao and the Southern Philippines.

Just before the signing, the government stopped the negotiations on Sept. 3 and plunged into attack mode. They launched joint police-military offensives against the MILF and civilians.

Since then, more than 500,000 people, mostly women and children, have been forced to abandon homes and thrown into refugee camps. Now, one-third of the Philippines is on the verge of erupting into open warfare. I'm not talking about your garden variety guerilla skirmishes here and there.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front and their allies have proven capable of launching conventional maneuvers into the theater in the past. Add to that milieu the very vibrant Communist led New People's Army Southern Command and of course the reactionary group Abu Sayyaf - then you have a situation that could explode into a conflict that could rival the Balkans in the 90's.

Why has the U.S. capitalist media ignored this?

Maybe the world situation right now is as such that conflict like this unless it becomes close to cataclysmic will be hard-pressed to vie for media attention. But our analysis should be deeper and more profound than that of the main stream pundits and spin masters.

Imperialism means war

As Lenin wrote, imperialism means war. In the face of "relative peace" and "relative prosperity" being enjoyed by Imperialist countries of the West, hundreds of millions of people from poor countries of the third world are experiencing an era of extreme oppression, suffering and horror.

As typified by the Afghan and Iraq wars - the US imperialists surge to dominate regions upon regions of the world to feed its endless need for raw materials and fresh new markets - civilized nations are being leveled to the ground with the hopes of building new ones totally subservient to imperialist aims.

The Philippine narrative is no different. For centuries it has never experienced a sliver of peace.

After 300 years of Spanish direct colonial rule the Filipino people were thrown into a bloody war against a new ruler. In the war of Empires, the name of the game is winner takes all, but the combative Filipinos refused to be taken without a fight, on the ensuing 1899-1902 American war of invasion - 1.4 million Filipinos were butchered.

Maybe what made some patriotic Filipinos tempered their resolve to fight the American invaders was the condescending proclamation of "Benevolent Assimilation" by President William McKinley in December 21, 1898, before the Treaty of Paris was even tabled.

It stated, “The mission of the United States is one of the benevolent assimilation. In the fulfillment of this high mission, supporting the temperate administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there must be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority, to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles to the bestowal of the blessings of good and stable government upon the people of the Philippine Islands under the flag of the United States."

This last paragraph of the document almost immediately became the de facto blueprint of the Imperialist subjugation of the Philippines! Loosely translated the whole proclamation really meant: "Our real mission is to civilize those uncivilized Filipinos. We have to force them and use torture if need be to accept our gentile ways of doing things. We must reward the traitors and collaborators generously and vigorously hunt like wild animals and kill those who bellicose."

The colonization of the Philippines was laid out within the contours of what Manifest Destiny was for all of the Americas; but in the new era of expanding monopoly capitalism in distant markets – layered on top of sheer brut force equivalent to what was employed on the Native Americans – was a more sophisticated and insidious scheme.

The US Imperialist stranglehold of the Philippines was cemented by a series of unjust and oppressive proclamations, acts, treaties and agreements - political, military and economic – that were enacted after the occupation.

History of defiance

The Moros of Southern Philippines are the people that Mckinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation” failed to assimilate.

As a matter of fact they had never been Filipinos or subjects of King Felipe in the first place. Although Spain claimed the territories of Moroland prior to the Spanish-American War, the Spanish had little actual control over the area. The rebellious Muslim inhabitants of the Sulus and Mindanao fiercely resisted Spanish attempts of forcible conversion to Catholicism. The American occupiers did not fare any better.

The Moros as a nation were never really vanquished simply because there was no single authoritative political body to be vanquished. The highly fractious society was led by hundreds of Datus and Sultans with varying degrees of hatred and acceptance of the colonialist.

To underscore this historical fact, Theodore Roosevelt’s issued proclamation declaring the end of the Philippine Insurrection and cessation of hostilities on July 4, 1902 made an exception of the country inhabited by the Moro Tribes, which according to him: “This proclamation does not apply.”

Moro’s religion and culture survived colonialism; and even as late as four decades ago their system of barter in lieu of cash economy was still widely practiced in the southernmost border towns of the island of Mindanao.

Wealth of the people up for grabs

Mindanao is one of the richest regions of the Philippines.

If you are a “sushi” connoisseur, chances are the mouthwatering slice of “toro” that you crave about was extricated from a tuna fish caught in Mindanao. 55% of Philippine yellow fin tuna export goes to Japan.

The area also exports approximately US0 million annually in canned tuna and other processed tuna products, representing about 4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Philippine mining industry officials in their promotional campaign to solicit foreign investors said, the country has around trillion worth of unexplored copper, gold and nickel. Majority of the 24 sites targeted for exploration are in Mindanao.

The region is also dotted with possible crude oil and natural gas deposits.

In just one of the sites in Southern Mindanao that PhilOil and foreign venture capitalist declared will be operational this year has a daily plant capacity of 100,000 barrels of crude oil and 250,000 cub. ft. of natural gas.

The question is: Who will get the most from all of these?

Not the 30,000 miners and their families from the Diwalwal site nor the fish processing plant workers of General Santos City and the small fisherfolks of Southern Cotabato.

It will be the Wall Street venture capitalist! It will be the giant Japanese fishing magnate! It will be the greedy local bourgeois who owns the means of production! The capitalists fat cats!

And what will the Moro workers get? Pennies!

A base of operation for military aggression

It is hard to believe that US Imperialism is not fully behind what is going on in Southern Philippines today.

With almost 3,000 combatants and many more covert operatives and their entourage of private contractors in the field and actively pursuing supposedly terrorists elements, it is hard to believe that Pentagon is not calling the shots.

After the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the routing of Al Queda to Pakistan, the Philippines became another front on Bush war against terror.

Immediately, forces like the New Peoples Army and Muslim armed insurgents were lumped together into one convenient target and called “terrorists.” Eventually military operations designed to pursue and annihilate terrorists can be categorically labeled as counter-insurgency campaigns.

The massive evacuation of ordinary civilian population from area of conflict to special camps reminds us of the strategic hamlet program employed by the US Imperialist forces in Vietnam; with the sole purpose of separating the fish from the water – weeding the rebel fighters away from their mass base. Washington’s bloody fingerprints are all over Mindanao.

In the absence of permanent military bases in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, a dubious grouping of renegade elements from MNLF & MILF are just being used by Washington – for setting footprints for “lily pads” or "forward logistics and operation base" that could be used for pre-emptive strikes anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Now that the Mindanao crisis is promising to put the Philippines in the world stage again, it is interesting to see how the US involvement will unravel.

Whose country is it anyway?

The last paragraph of Mckinley’s proclamation of “Benevolent Assimilation” is still at play in Mindanao almost a century later. But this time around there are conscious elements who could see through the real intention of the imperialist and ready to give them their money’s worth.

But we should learn from history.



The Moro National Liberation Front ( MNLF)-Marcos administration peace talks in 1976 promising limited autonomy for the Moros brokered by OIC and Khadaffy, broke down in 1977 exposing the real intent of the government and imperialists: to forestall the surging arm insurrection in Mindanao.

>The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which is in the center of the current crisis, could have been a tactical victory for Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); but now that it’s getting clear that the Arroyo-US block was not really serious and could be just using it to push for charter change and Philippine’s move to federalism, all progressive forces in the Philippines should step up and support a real program that will bring justice to the Moro people – if it’s people’s war and so it is.

The question is one of self-determination for the oppressed Bangsamoro nation in the Philippines. It is not an issue of religion or ethnicity, but of a common history of oppression, culture, language, territory and identity.

Although the leading players have taken on a religious character, it is similar to the delineating lines that mark national identity in Ireland, where “Catholics” means Irish and “Protestant” means colonizer or collaborator with British colonialism. It is not religion that marks the struggle, although it is a factor, but the national and class lines represented.

The government of the Philippines is comprador—in the pocket of U.S. imperialism through and through. The MILF is a multi-class nationalist movement led by independent-minded bourgeois elements seeking freedom from U.S. imperialism. And the communist-led NPA is the most prominent expression of the working-class in the struggle for a democratic and socialist Philippines.

The Moro people have the absolute right to self-determination. As Marxists we must recognize this and defend this right as we give solidarity to the struggle of all progressive forces, especially our comrades in the NPA, who are fighting for true justice for the workers and peasants of the Philippines.

Once and for all the people of the Philippines should have a final say on what path the country has to take free from U.S. imperialist intervention.

Whose country is it anyway? Self-determination for the people of Mindanao!

RISE UP!

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