August 16, 2008
Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
BAYAN secretary general
The Arroyo regime welcomed and fully-supported United States intervention in the internal matter of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Arroyo and her subalterns must be investigated and held accountable for their actions.
Based on the report of the United States Institute for Peace, the US-initiated and funded Philippine Facilitation Project was supported by both US President George W. Bush and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The report also counts three meetings between officials of the USIP and Mrs. Arroyo, once in 2003 and twice in 2004.
The USIP was created and funded by the US Congress for peace advocacy that helps advance US economic, political and military interests worldwide. The USIP was a policy instrument for the U.S. government that served as a “channel of communication outside official policy mechanisms.”
To quote the report, “During an August 2003 visit to the Philippines, a PFP delegation met with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her senior advisers, military officers, senior Philippine senators, religious leaders, and representatives of civil society (NGOs, Moros, and educators.)”
“When President Macapagal-Arroyo visited the United Nations in September 2003, several senior advisers and USIP staff members met with her and her delegation (including the foreign secretary, executive secretary, and members of the Philippine congress) to review the status of the peace process and the role of the Institute. Ambassador Frank Wisner and USIP representatives also met with President Macapagal-Arroyo in California after her 2004 election to encourage a renewed GRP-wide effort to conclude an equitable settlement with the Moros.”
The PFP received $30 million in funding from the US Congress in 2003 as part of the Iraq War Supplemental Appropriations of 2003. The PFP sought to influence the outcome of the talks ,including the controversial issue of ancestral domain. The USIP used examples of ancestral domain conflict resolutions of the Native American Indians, the Anuit tribes in Canada, the Maori in New Zealand and other experiences that did not require secession from an oppressive regime. The USIP advocated an ancestral domain arrangement that would remain friendly with US interests.
United States involvement in the peace process bodes ill for the cause of the Bangsamoro people. The US has long sought to gain a solid foothold in Mindanao. It has sought to exploit the resources of Mindanao particularly oil and minerals. It has sought to strengthen US military hegemony and presence in the region through military exercises and the forward presence of its troops in Sulu and other provinces.
What does the US want in the peace process? The US does not want the genuine recognition of the rights of the Bangsamoro. The US seeks an end to the armed conflict in Mindanao to secure a stable area for its investments and troops. It seeks to curry favor with the MILF insofar as US investments and basing opportunities are concerned.
The US government has also made it clear that it does not support independence for the Bangsamoro.
An example of the interests being protected by the US is the $100 million off-shore oil exploration in Sulu recently announced by Exxon Mobil, the world’s biggest oil and gas producer.
According to the USIP report, the US government divided its work between the USIP, the USAID and the US embassy and State Department. The US embassy was tasked to “encourage” the Philippine government to pursue peace talks. The USAID was tasked with “economic development” of Mindanao while the USIP was tasked with engaging and influencing key players in the peace process. The report also states that the US embassy coordinated with the US Pacific Command in counter-terror training and in ensuring high visibility of US troops in Mindanao.
The US intervened in an internal affair, as it tried to influence key players in the peace process. The Arroyo government is guilty of allowing such brazen intervention. Arroyo and US interests likely intersected on the issue of charter change and the prospect of US investments in Mindanao.
Early on, the USIP report already anticipated the issue of charter change because some provisions in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain might be declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The Arroyo government pounced on the opening for cha-cha as an opportunity to advance its own self-serving agenda of term extension.
US ambassador Kristie Kenney’s claims that the US does not intervene in the internal affairs of the Philippines is a pure lie. Her claim that she has not read the text of the MOA-AD is also quite unbelievable. From the USIP report, the US government, through various agencies, was involved in the peace process on many levels.
One of the most telling and disturbing statements found in the USIP report deals with forms of intervention available to the US.
The report describes U.S. policy instruments in Mindanao to include “diplomacy, conditionality of U.S. economic and military assistance programs, and more punitive measures on the counterterrorism front.”
The above statement could mean that the US government is also open to direct military intervention. ###