Serving Propaganda for Thanksgiving: US Reps, Del Rosario Use Typhoon Haiyan to Justify Increased US Military Presence in the Philippines
“This is disaster opportunism at its finest,” expressed BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin in response to the pro-militarization push made by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and U.S. Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) this week, following the U.S. lawmakers’ tour of communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
BAYAN-USA found statements made by the government representatives during their joint press conference particularly appalling. Del Rosario stated, “I think this demonstrates the need for this framework agreement we’re working out with the US, because it accentuates the purposes of the framework [one of] which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response is a very major aspect of the agreement.” Rep. Smith added, “We know that negotiations are under way. I think, in a paradoxical way, the storm has brought all of us even closer. Every other, economic, [trade] and other ongoing negotiations will be given a positive boost as a direct result of all of these.” Del Rosario and Smith were referring to the Framework Agreement for Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defense Cooperation which the US and Philippines have been negotiating for several months and which would result in the deployment of thousands of additional U.S military personnel to the Philippines and the whole Asia Pacific region.
“The mud is still fresh and body bags haven’t even been collected from the streets in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, yet del Rosario, Smith and Franks are already talking about sealing the new US-Philippines military access agreement,” stated Ellorin. “Smith didn’t even try to hide the fact that he views Typhoon Haiyan as making a positive contribution to U.S. imperialism’s geo-political agenda, despite the 5,000+ people who died and millions of people whose lives will never be the same. And Del Rosario conveniently forgot to mention that the Philippines would not need the so-called assistance of the U.S. military if President B.S. Aquino’s administration would simply do its job and utilize the country’s resources for genuine development, including disaster preparedness, instead of squandering billions of dollars in pork barrel funds to enrich himself and his allies.”
The government pronouncements came right before Thanksgiving, an American holiday that many condemn for whitewashing the history of genocide and conquest of Native peoples in the United States.
“Del Rosario, Smith and Franks are promoting the myth that U.S. militarization of the Philippines benefits Filipinos as much as it benefits U.S. imperial interests. The U.S. Reps may as well say ‘We come in peace’ and serve a turkey dinner as a peace offering while plotting the continued exploitation of the Philippines and the trampling of Philippine sovereignty. This isn’t any different from the European invaders’ genocide and land-theft of Native American peoples centuries ago, which led to the founding of the USA,” stated Ellorin. “Since our governments are not representing the true interests of grassroots people in either country, we have no choice but to continue to raise our voices in opposition, and stand firm in our fight to continue the original Philippine Revolution of 1896 for national democracy and national sovereignty!”