Sunday, May 28, 2006

Are CIA death squads on the rampage in the Philippines?

In the Philippines there continue to be assasinations and disappearances of those who oppose the right-wing, pro-Pentagon government.

In 2004, 63 were killed.

In 2005, 179 were assassinated and another 46 disappeared and presumed dead.

So far in the first two months of 2006 there have been 26 documented political assassinations....

Ramsey Clark investigated death squads.

Clark wrote that "the victims of vigilante violence are overwhelmingly poor farmers, workers, slum dwellers, and others who are pushing for significant land reform, wage increases and protection workers' rights, as well as those who oppose U.S. military bases."

The increase in death squad activities in the Philippines comes at the same time as increased CIA aid and was preceded by a visit to the Philippines by Maj. Gen. John Singlaub. (The Nation, 9/19/1987)

The following are extracts from an article in the May 19, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

THE MURDER last week of Manuel Nardo... brought to 123 the number of leftist activists killed since 2001...

The Left blamed the killings on government security forces...

The killings have escalated against the background of heightened harassment of the parliamentary stream of the Left.


It is alleged that US tax dollars are being used to fund death squads in the Philippines.

According to a news release from Bayan:

An Arroyo-Bush military pact sealed in 2001 has secured millions in US military aid to the Arroyo dictatorship, the largest recipient of US aid in the Asia-Pacific region.

There are currently thousands of US military in the Philippines training Philippine forces in suppression tactics that include large-scale political persecution, under the auspices of so-called anti-terrorism measures.



Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joined the US global "War on Terrorism", the Philippines has become the site of an on-going undeclared war against peasant and union activists, progressive political dissidents and lawmakers, human rights lawyers and activists, women leaders and a wide range of print and broadcast journalists.

Because of the links between the Army, the regime and the death squads, political assassinations take place in an atmosphere of absolute impunity.

The vast majority of the attacks occur in the countryside and provincial towns...

Between 2001 and 2006 hundreds of killings, disappearances, death threats and cases of torture have been documented by the independent human rights center, KARAPATAN , and the church-linked Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research. Since Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001 there have been 400 documented extrajudicial killings.

In 2004, 63 were killed and in 2005, 179 were assassinated and another 46 disappeared and presumed dead. So far in the first two months of 2006 there have been 26 documented political assassinations....

In the years following the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship (Feb. 26, 1986) by a military and Church-backed revolt, the subsequent elected presidents have failed to stem the ongoing deterioration of the country.

The new rulers like Corazon Aquino (1986-1992), and former General Fidel Ramos (1992-1998), simply favored a new set of oligarchs and set the stage for the rise to power of a corrupt populist, Joseph Estrada. His "anti-oligarch" rhetoric brought him to the presidential palace in 1998 with widespread support among the poor.

Estrada became an irritant to Washington and the traditional oligarchy by welcoming Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 1999 and for his populist social policies, such as handing out thousands of land titles to urban squatters.

US-designed, upper class-backed, street demonstrations supported by sectors of the military elite culminated in the ouster of Estrada in January 2001. The same forces hoisted his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the Presidency. Macapagal is a US educated, neo-liberal economist and favorite of the US Embassy.

This political putsch led to the expansion of US military basing rights and a new military agreement, quickly signed by Macapagal after a two year delay during Estrada's presidency. With the rise of Macapagal-Arroyo, Washington has a reliable client.

The newly 'installed' Macapagal Arroyo quickly instituted a neo-liberal program of privatizations, drastic cuts for public education and public hospitals and onerous value-added taxes which impacted the poor and lower middle-class.

By 2005, the Philippine total external and internal debt ballooned to over $100 billion dollars and yearly debt servicing exceed 30 per cent of the budget.

Even 8 million overseas Filipino workers (including a significant section of the educated professionals) sending home $12.5 billion dollars of remittances in 2005 could not begin to cover debt servicing.

The Philippines bears the dubious distinction of being the only country in Asia to have seen a drop in per capita GDP during and since the heady years of the 'Asian Tiger' boom.

Macapagal Arroyo's family and cronies have been implicated in the same levels of corruption as that attributed to the deposed President Estrada...


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