eastwind journals 19
eastwind journals are the personal journalistic writings of Bernie Lopez, and are not part of the healing ministry. Any views or comments are his own and does not reflect those of the ministry.
NO TO DRONES IN MINDANAO!!
By Bernie Lopez eastwind journals Opinyon Magazine, Feb 20 2012
This is an open letter to President Aquino about the dangers of deadly unmanned Predator drones that the Americans are now using in Mindanao in violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and without the consent of Congress. It is possible that President Aquino was not consulted by the Americans and learned about the killing of 3 rebels by drones only from news reports.
Unmanned drones are considered by international human rights organizations as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) because of their track record of high civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yes they kill Al Queda operatives, but they also kill civilians. Afghanistan and Pakistan governments protest against the Americans that this violates their sovereignty and jurisdiction. The Americans simply ignore these and do it all over again in defiance and disrespect of the host countries. Those who invaded Iraq because of WMDs are using WMDs themselves.
They will do the same in Mindanao and defy our sovereignty. The Americans feel we are easier to manipulate than the Arabs. Just give a few threats of loss of loans or denied second-hand weapons as sweeteners, and Noynoy buckles down. The US can say, “Or else no Spratley toys for you.”
A lot of diplomatic activities are emerging currently. Obama has a new geopolitical initiative to focus on the soaring economies of the Asia Pacific, now that the EU is on a dive. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario announced high level talks next month for expanding military presence here. Part of the agenda would be a port for American warships and the use of deadly drones. They do not mention American troops but they do this clandestinely anyway. US Defense Secretary Leon Panella wants these agenda ironed out before the meeting. That is the American side. On the Filipino side, a possible quid pro quo are armaments for the Philippine navy for Spratleys, which Noynoy says are “nothing of an offensive capability”. (Inquirer, Feb. 7, 2012).
US Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro is scheduled to visit this month. Why are they sending soldiers and not businessmen? Strangely, Obama’s initiatives in the Asia Pacific are more military than economic. The Americans are putting up a new base in Australia. They want the VFA amended because they want renewed presence in Mindanao, extremely strategic to ‘encircling’ the enemy China. VFA amendment, however, needs Senate approval and maybe Constitutional amendments, two big hurdles.
Drones are also a violation of the VFA. Grabiela Party list Rep. Luz Ilagan wants an investigation of reports on the use of Predator drones by the Philippine military in Mindanao in relation to the killing of three leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. If they were indeed Abu Sayyaf members, such an act will encourage them to do it again, until they start killing civilians instead of rebels as they did in the Middle East. Reports attribute drone operations to the Philippine Air Force, but such a high-security and high-technical task can be executed only by American soldiers.
There are also news reports of covert operations by American troops in Mindanao, again, in violation of the VFA. Are the crew-cut Americans in a beach resort owned by Rudy Rivera in Saranggani in reality soldiers? Ilagan cited the massacre of eight civilians in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu with the possible direct participation of US troops.