A People's Retrospect:
The Continuing Significance of the Filipino-American War
Claro M. Recto Hall, UP Diliman campus
February 4, 2011
|San Beda history professor Nacy Gabriel and UP Professor Roland Simbulan|
MAKABAYAN officers Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo
|Photos courtesy of Karl Ramirez|
IMPERIALISM AND RESISTANCE
|UP Mass Communication Dean Rolando Tolentino|
Richard R. Gappi
Dahil sa matapat na sumunod
Oo. Inaamin ko at sinususugan ko
FREE JULIAN ASSANGE! HANDS OFF WIKILEAKS!
|UP Assistant Rrofessor Siao Campoamor|
Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 22:150–157
Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN 1079-6126 print; 1469-9389 online DOI: 10.1080/10402651003751404
ROLAND G. SIMBULAN
The number one rule to remember: Governments lie.
Seventeen years after the historic dismantling of U.S. military bases in the Philippines, when the country’s Senate rejected a newly proposed treaty, a controversial document has allowed the restoration of U.S. military presence in the Philippines. This is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which, for the past ten years, has made the Philippine countryside a free-fire zone for so-called joint military exercises using live ammunition and artillery that have killed, injured, or maimed Filipinos, even children. U.S. troops enter Philippine territory without passports or visas, without clearances from local customs or immigration authorities, without quarantine clearances from host country health authorities, with neither licenses nor registration for driving their vehicles in the country. They have gotten away with murder, attempted murder, rape, harassment of women, maltreatment of Filipinos, and destruc- tion of the Philippine environment. More than 40,000 U.S. troops have entered Philippine territory since the VFA was put in place in 1999. They have en- tered Philippine soil, territorial waters, and airspace in nuclear armed aircraft carriers, cruise ships, submarines, and military aircraft, in clear violation of the Philippine constitutional prohibition on the entry of nuclear weapons in any part of Philippine territory.sser known to the U.S. and Philippine publics is that from 2002 to the present, the United States has been waging a silent, secret war in the hinterlands of southern Philippines. The mission and objective: war on ter- ror. The legal cover: the Philippines–U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). The camouflage for imple- mentation: joint Philippine–U.S. military exercises called Balikatan (literally meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder”) and other small-unit exercises. Official de- nials of the existence of U.S. facilities or bases, as well as involvement of U.S. military forces in direct combat operations by both the U.S. and Philippine governments, have only been belied by events, inconsistencies, and insider testimonies. Because of these official denials, we could say that what the Pen- tagon has installed in the Philippines are, in fact, secret bases and facilities, and that their deployed forces consisting mostly of U.S. Special Operations Forces are engaged in a secret war in support of counterinsurgency warfare.
Recent calls from the Philippine Senate come in the wake of revelations provided by resigned Philippine Navy Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian. She not only exposed anomalies in the use of Balikatan funds, but also the di- rect involvement of U.S. soldiers in combat in the country. Gadian has been praised by the mainstream Philippine media and other sectors of Philippine society “for her patriotism of the highest order.” She stood up to her corrupted military superiors whom she had originally exposed for financial corruption of Balikatan funds, and has now revealed the existence of officially unac- knowledged U.S. “forward operating sites” used by U.S. military forces in the Philippines. Her affidavit and sworn testimony regarding the combat role of U.S. military forces in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, is the most telling insider’s account from a whistleblower of what U.S. military forces and U.S. intelligence operatives are actually doing in the Philippines. For many Filipinos, she exemplifies the courage, integrity, and loyalty to the Filipino people’s interests that every Filipino soldier is sworn to uphold.
These revelations have led to the filing of a Senate Resolution on Septem- ber 1, 2009, which sought the renegotiation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement and its possible abrogation. The Senate Resolution was sponsored by the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who also co-chairs the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA. The Senate Resolution stated, “It is the sense of the Senate that the Department of Foreign Affairs should seek to renegotiate the VFA with the United States, and in case of denial, should give notice of termination of the VFA.”
It has been ten years since the Philippine–U.S. Visiting Forces Agree- ment was signed, and eight years since the Philippine–U.S. Mutual Logistics Support Agreement was sealed. During this period, the VFA has been tainted with controversies that have only exposed its loopholes as a one-sided agree- ment. The Subic Rape Case was the most controversial human rights issue, but, despite the conviction of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith after a full-blown trial, Philippine authorities were denied custody, and the rape victim was eventually forced (or bribed?) into a retraction. In 2002, Sgt. Reggie Lane of the U.S. Army shot a local resident, Buyong-buyong Isnijal, while the latter was sleeping in his house in Basilan. Isnijal was suspected to be an Abu Sayya member, but this has never been proven. n an interview by the U.S. media on August 21, 2009, U.S. Defense Secre- tary Robert Gates said that the “elite 600-troop counterinsurgency operation deployed in the Philippines,” which is part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, will remain in the Philippines. The JSOTF-P is “an advanced unit” that serves as “the first line of defense” in the U.S. war on ter- ror in Southeast Asia, and, according to the New York Times journalist Thom Shanker quoting Pentagon sources, “conducts civic actions in a simultaneous counterinsurgency effort, with partners in the CIA.” Even if U.S. and Philip- pine officials have been telling us a different story, what is happening on the ground gives us an idea of the real score: since 2002, thirteen U.S. soldiers have died in the Philippines—ten by accident, and three by bombs and mines in the most conflict-ridden areas of the Philippines.
In 2004, the former JSOTF-P commander, Col. David Maxwell, admit- ted in Military Review that “the JSOTF-P conducts operations under the guise of an exercise.” In his article, Maxwell wrote that the mission of the JSOTF-P in the Philippines “is to conduct unconventional warfare in the Philippines through, by, and with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to help the Philip- pine government separate the population and destroy terrorist organizations.” The latest U.S. Field Manual on Unconventional Warfare (FM 3-05.130) is- sued by the U.S. Army in September 2008 defines “unconventional warfare” as including “guerilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities and assisted recovery.” Maxwell’s article, in fact, implied that the Balikatan joint military exercises under the VFA were just a disguise for actual countert- errorist operations. We must also note the important detail that the Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (and predecessor of the JSOTF-P), which Col. Maxwell commanded then in the Philippines, was the Philippine counter- part of the Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan, which was definitely a combat unit assigned to Afghanistan right after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. By no means were they just a contingent for training or logistics support.
Another former JSOTF-P Commander for the Philippines, Col. Bill Coultrup, revealed “that 20 percent of his work in the Philippines is combat related, while 80 percent is civil military operations.” For the combat mis- sions, these are, “capture and kill missions” of the Special Operations Forces under the JSOTF-P. Maxwell’s and Coultrup’s admissions are corroborated by Philippine Navy Lt. SG Gadian, who, in August 2009, exposed the U.S. par- ticipation in combat missions in Mindanao. Lt. Senior Grade Gadian served as the Civil Military Operations Officer and one of the Philippine military plan- ners for the Balikatan Exercises. Gadian had served as Officer in Charge of the Civil Military Task Group of Balikatan 2007 responsible for the adminis- trative, operational, and financial requirements of the joint military exercises, and in this role, had served as liaison officer of the AFP with the JSOTF-P. Gadian, likewise, is the former deputy chief for Civil Military Operations of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Western Mindanao Command is a unified AFP command composed of Army, Air Force, and Philippine Navy units, with operations covering Zamboanga, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi Tawi, and parts of Lanao provinces. This is why Gadian’s testimony is all the more significant; it sheds light on a lot of things that have been hidden from the Filipino and American people. It only opens this issue to the fact that there are many activities that have been, and are being, kept hidden by the U.S. and Philippine governments about what U.S. Special Op- erations Forces are really doing in Mindanao and the Philippines, under the cover of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Balikatan training exercises, and the so-called “humanitarian missions” by U.S. Army Rangers, SEAL teams, and U.S. Special Operations Forces.
In her sworn affidavit and testimony before the Philippine Senate’s Leg- islative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement in August 2009, Gadian exposed the existence of secret U.S. facilities inside Philippine Army bases in Mindanao. Foremost among them is Camp Navarro, the head- quarters of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City. Here the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force is based, with two permanent struc- tures that are guarded by U.S. Marines, and into which Filipino officers cannot simply enter or have access. This is considered a principal “forward operating base” of U.S. forces in the Philippines, although the U.S. government does not officially acknowledge its existence to the public.adian exposed Camp Malagutay in Barangay Malagutay, Zamboanga City, which includes a training unit of the U.S. JSOTF-P with structures, communications, and administrative facilities. Other bases she has revealed are Camp Andrews Air Base in Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City, where U.S. mil- itary forces actively use the airstrip and have based C-12, C-130 aircraft, and Chinook helicopters; Camp General Bautista in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu Province, where U.S. JSOTF have clandestine facilities; and Philippine Navy Station in Batu-Bato, Panglima, Sugala, Tawi Tawi Islands, where U.S. SEAL teams have set up facilities and have stationed a unit. U.S. military forces also have access to practically all camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Philippine authorities do not have control over the movements or activities of U.S. military forces, like U.S. Navy SEAL teams for example, nor are they onitored by Philippine officials.
Based on the VFA provisions, “As used in this agreement, ‘U.S. person- nel’ means U.S. military and civilian personnel temporarily in the Philippines in connection with activities approved by the Philippine Government.” Many presume that the “U.S. civilian personnel” referred to in the VFA are those from intelligence units of the U.S. government, such as those from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Other agencies include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Peace Corps, which specialize in winning “hearts and minds,” using so-called humanitarian or non-lethal aid. Covert action includes unconven- tional warfare, intelligence operations, and psychological operations (psy-ops) in target areas such as remote communities suspected of being “controlled or influenced by insurgents.” U.S. Army manuals on counterinsurgency, such as the 1975 Guide for the Planning of Counterinsurgency, state that “non-lethal tools” like humanitarian or civic action missions, in the form of medical/dental (MEDCAP) teams purportedly to meet human needs, are meant to penetrate local political infrastructures and achieve the objectives of psychological op- erations. Their activities provide the fundamental elements in supporting local counterinsurgency operations. It is understood that, as part of Operation En- during Freedom in the Philippines, “the CIA has sent its elite paramilitary officers from their Special Activities Division to hunt down and kill or capture key terrorist leaders” in the country.
The “activities” of U.S. forces covered by the VFA are neither defined nor specified. Neither does the VFA specify the duration of these activities, nor the number of U.S. military forces allowed at any given time. The activities and U.S. presence are supposed to be “temporary,” but Lt. Gadian states otherwise: “U.S. troops stationed inside Camp Navarro in Zamboanga and other parts of Mindanao total about 500 at each particular time, on a rotating basis of three months each. These troops are stationed in Mindanao even without any Balikatan exercises going on.” Article XVIII Section 25 of the Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign military bases, facilities, or foreign troops “except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate.” But the VFA has vaguely allowed temporary visits and activities of U.S. forces that the Philippine Supreme Court has stated should be strictly for joint military exercises or training. No combat role and no installation of military bases or facilities. Nevertheless, without any basing treaty, U.S. military forces are not specifically allowed to install bases or military facilities. They are also not allowed to engage in combat operations in the country. John Gresham, in an article for Defense Standard, mentions the involvement of U.S. military forces in the Philippines as a critical part of “low intensity counterinsurgency strategy.” Evidently, low intensity counterinsurgency is the specialty or forte of U.S. Special Operations Forces.
If there is an official claim by the Pentagon that they are in the Philip- pines merely to provide advisory, intelligence, equipment training, and lo- gistics to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), then that may also be the reason why U.S. Special Operations Forces are “embedded” in combat units of the AFP during their tactical missions. The AFP now largely de- pends on the intelligence gathering, covert, and psy-war operations provided by the U.S. forces in conflict zones. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for intelligence are now allowed in many parts of the country without being mon- itored and without any form of control by local Philippine civilian or military officials.
U.S. intelligence operatives and counterinsurgency specialists in civilian clothes, under the coverage of the VFA, are now seen freely roaming
the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo and other AFP camps. They provide critical battlefield intelli- gence and communications/logistical support for large- and small-unit local counterinsurgency operations. It is clear that the type of U.S. support given to the AFP is not only at the level of strategic planning, but at the battle- field level, through operational and tactical units involved in combat. That is why the JSOTF-P are in Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga, even Tawi Tawi, among other provinces where they have been deployed. In Bicol, and other hotspots, U.S. Special Assessment Teams have been sent for surveillance in support of counterinsurgency.
U.S. military forces are integrated as part of local combat units that, at any given time, actually engage in combat operations with the Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), or the New People’s Army (NPA). At times, they even operate on their own for so-called “surgical operations,” which are covert in nature and will never be acknowledged officially. This is what the Gadian testimony has so clearly exposed. If the U.S. forces under the Balikatan/VFA terms are simply conducting training of AFP tactical troops, then they should do so in Nueva Ecija, in Tanay, or where there are AFP training camps—but far from the conflict war zones. Deploying and utilizing the JSOTF in known conflict areas exposes them to actual combat missions. In combat parlance, what the U.S. military forces in Mindanao conflict zones are doing is called C4I (command, control, communications, computers, in- telligence).
As for the U.S. involvement in intelligence and counterintelligence op- erations in support of the AFP, this is done in the field. It can be considered as direct combat intelligence and counterintelligence. Information Operations (IO), a tactical combat concept of the U.S. Army Land Information Warfare Activity, is classified as combat support and a combat activity. It includes intelligence, electronic warfare, operations security, and psychological war- fare operations. U.S. combat doctrine classifies information operations as integrated with combat planning and execution of combat operations in un- conventional warfare or in an insurgency situation. Surveillance and target acquisition, command, control, and communications for combat missions are all integrated as part of the whole tactical mission, which is to neutralize or kill the enemy target. U.S. manuals now refer to all of these as battlefield operating systems (BOS). They are all part of the conduct of a military oper- ation, using U.S. Army doctrine, which has been adopted by the AFP as its doctrine.
As for the installation of bases and facilities that are prohibited by the Philippine Constitution (as the VFA does not include their construction), Lt. Gadian stated that, among Filipino officers and soldiers, these installations
156 ROLAND G. SIMBULAN
are referred to as “American camps” in Malagutay, Zamboanga, in Sulu, in Basilan, and as far as Tawi Tawi. The U.S. troops are there 365 days; they have set up their own facilities and camps, and are embedded in Philippine units for combat operations. These facilities are guarded by U.S. Marines, and when a Filipino officer visits them for official purposes, they do not have full access to these U.S. camps and they must surrender their cell phones or cameras to the U.S. sentries. This is the case even if these U.S. facilities are located inside Philippine Army camps, such as those at Camp Navarro and at Malagutay, in Zamboanga City.
he continuous U.S. military presence and deployment—365 days in the
Philippines—is not being monitored by Philippine authorities, according to Gadian’s testimony. The Philippine authorities, both civilian and military, have been so lax with the U.S. presence that they have even allowed prostituted women (including teenagers) into the U.S. military facilities, such as in Camp Navarro. “Women come in and out of the U.S. camps especially at night,” Gadian testified.
In its document, “Strengthening U.S. Global Defense Posture” (Septem- ber 2004), the U.S. Department of Defense now categorizes its overseas basing structures according to the following nomenclature. Main Operating Bases (MOBs) are very large installations and facilities located in the territory of their most reliable allies, with vast infrastructures and even family support facilities. They serve as the hub of military operations with comprehensive facilities. During their heyday as U.S. bases, Subic, Clark, and other U.S. military facilities in the Philippines were of this category, before the 1991 rejection of the U.S. bases treaty by the Philippine Senate. Today, Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Humphreys in South Korea are prime examples of MOBs.
Forward Operating Sites (FOS) are smaller bases and facilities, but they store pre-positioned equipment and logistics, and normally host only a small number of troops on a rotational, as opposed to permanent, basis. They support a range of operations such as the forward deployment forces of the U.S. Special Operations Forces. To a certain degree, the U.S. military presence in the Philippines has the qualities of FOS.
Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) are facilities owned by host governments that would only be used by the United States “for access” in case of actual operations. Although they would be run and maintained by the host nation or even private contractors, they may be used to pre-position logistics support, for special operations, and so on. When expanded, they are easily converted to FOS.
eferred to as “lily pads” by U.S. military literature, both FOS and CSLs support the MOBs without requiring a lot of resources to maintain large
THE PENTAGON’S SECRET WAR IN THE PHILIPPINES 157
U.S. bases and to disguise themselves against political agitation from the people of the host country. For this reason, they are hidden, constructed on the host country’s own army camps to minimize their visibility. Thus, the FOS and CSLs are normally integrated in host country military or civilian facilities. Based on Lt. SG Gadian’s sworn testimony, U.S. military presence in the Philippines can easily fall under FOS and CSLs.
Evidently, many high-ranking officers of the Armed Forces of the Philip- pines are already awed, if not made “high,” by hitching rides on modern U.S. military aircraft or helicopters that are being used to ferry U.S. SEALs, Rangers, or Special Operations Forces. For these merry rides, they allow them- selves not to be saluted by lower ranking officers of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines. They forget the patriotic spirit that the Philippine Constitution reminds all its men and women in uniform to internalize. But Lt. Gadian has not forgotten her self-respect, both as an officer and as a Filipino who refuses to be degraded or insulted by foreign troops. She modestly states that she has only told the truth about how Philippine sovereignty and self-respect is being trampled like a doormat by foreign troops.
The people of Mindanao, especially in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, are waging a continuous campaign to stop U.S. military intervention—in its covert and overt forms—in the internal conflict, which has only complicated the situation in the second largest island of the Philip- pines. Lately, the people of the Bicol region in Luzon have scored a tactical victory in the struggle against the restoration of U.S. military forces by forcing the rollback of 6,000 U.S. troops in March 2009, and forcing them to send instead a so-called 100-member U.S. military “humanitarian mission” in the Balikatan (BK ‘09) exercises. BAN Balikatan (Bikol Against Balikatan) and the SUMABA KA (Speak Out!) or Sorsogon United Movement for Peace Against Balikatan have successfully forced the retreat of BK ‘09 into a defen- sive position. A people’s caravan that traveled in all of Bicolandia’s provinces highlighted a strong people’s resistance to the VFA, which is being used as a camouflage to U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency and the restoration of de facto basing rights in the country.
For most Filipinos, the Visiting Forces Agreement has only highlighted the inequalities in the two agreements: the surrender of Philippine sovereignty to U.S. secret operations and activities as part of combat operations, and the blatant circumvention of the Philippine constitutional policy against foreign military bases, facilities, and foreign troops.
Roland G. Simbulan is a Professor in Development Studies and Public Management at the University of the Philippines. He has authored several books on Philippine–U.S. security relations. A long-time peace advocate in the anti-U.S. bases and anti-nuclear movements, he is editor-in-chief of yonip.com, a Philippine peace and solidarity website. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cia In Manila
By Roland G. Simbulan,
Convenor/Coordinator, Manila Studies Program
For a long time, Manila has been the main station, if not the regional headquarters, of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for Southeast Asia. This is perhaps so because the Philippines has always been regarded as a stronghold of US imperial power in Asia. Since the Americanized Filipinos were under the spell of American culture, they were easy to recruit without realizing they were committing treason to their own people and country. And from the beginning of the 20th century to 1992, there were the US military bases, the mighty symbols and infrastructure of American power.
CIA human intelligence assets in Manila are said to have provided vital information at crucial times. According to declassified documents under the Freedom of Information Act, on Sept. 17, 1972, a CIA asset in the Philippines who was in the inner circle of Marcos informed the CIA station in Manila that Ferdinand Marcos was planning to proclaim martial law on Sept. 21,1972. The CIA station in Manila was also provided in advance a copy of Proclamation 1081--the proclamation that declared martial law in the country--and a list of the individuals whom Marcos planned to arrest and imprison upon the declaration of military rule.
I would like to mention --without going into any conclusions--that, so accurate was the CIA's assessment about the Sept. 21, 1972 declaration of martial rule that it boosted the prestige of the CIA station in Manila. Upon his retirement a few years later, Henry Byroade, the American ambassador to Manila when martial law was declared, was honored by the CIA headquarters in Langley,Virginia--a tribute that is said to be very rarely given to any retiring ambassador. Also, in 1982, the CIA was able to verify from a high-ranking Philippine immigration officer the names of the two doctors who visited the Philippines to treat Marcos for kidney failure, giving the CIA a clear picture of Marcos's health problems.(Richelson, 1999).
It is important to expose US imperialism's clandestine apparatus in the Philippines. If the activities of this sinister agency are not meticulously documented, there is a tendency to mythologize, or even Hollywood-ize, its notoriety and crimes against the Filipino people and Philippine national sovereignty. The CIA is the covert overseas intelligence agency of the United States government and is likewise an "action-oriented " vehicle of American foreign and military policy. The 1975 Church Committee Report of the US congressional investigations into the CIA's covert activities abroad revealed how countless foreign governments were overthrown by the CIA; how the CIA instigated a military coup d'etat and assassinated foreign political leaders like Chilean President Salvador Allende, who merely tried to safeguard the interests of their own country; and how "special ops" and paramilitary campaigns contributed to the death, directly or indirectly, of millions of people, as a result of those actions.
The 1974-75 US congressional investigations also uncovered CIA intervention in the domestic politics of target countries--from the overthrow of governments, attempted assassinations, to subsidies and financial support for the media, political parties, trade unions, universities and business associations--all designed "to clandestinely influence foreign governments, events, organizations or persons in support of US foreign policy." (Robinson, 1996; Richelson,1999). The CIA has gone beyond its original mission of gathering intelligence and was conducting Mafia-type operations not only in its own territory but against foreign governments and their leaders.
Doing covert action that undermines Philippine national sovereignty and genuine democracy in order to prop up the tiny pro-US oligarchical minority that has cornered most of the wealth in their poor country is what the CIA is all about and is the real reason for its existence. It is no longer just the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence which is officially its mandate under the US National Security Act of 1947 that created the CIA.
The CIA in the Philippines has engaged in countless covert operations for intervention and dirty tricks particularly in Philippine domestic politics. On top of all this is the US diplomatic mission, especially the political section that is a favorite cover for many CIA operatives. CIA front companies also provide an additional but convenient layer of cover for operatives assigned overseas. In general, wherever you find US big business interests (like Coca-Cola, Ford, Citicorp, United Fruit, Nike, etc.), you also find a very active CIA. But the covers often used are diversified.
Desmond Fitzgerald, for instance, a former CIA chief of station in Manila was said to have fronted as a legitimate businessman of an American multinational company. Joseph Smith, a top CIA agent assigned to the Philippines in the early 1960s, posed as a "civilian employee" of the Clark Airforce Base's 13th Air Force Southeast Asia Regional Survey Unit .On the other hand, CIA operative Gabriel Kaplan's initial cover was really more "civilian"--with the CIA-created Asia Foundation (formerly the Committee for a Free Asia), then later as resident director of another CIA creation, the COMPADRE both of which we shall be dealing with more extensively later.
On the other hand, CIA operative David Sternberg fronted as a foreign correspondent for an American newspaper based in Boston, the Christian Science Monitor, when he assisted Gabriel Kaplan in managing the presidential campaign of Ramon Magsaysay in the '50s.
The Agency's assets and technical infrastructure in Manila have been drastically affected by the withdrawal of the bases by 1992 because, before this, the CIA operated jointly with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) major listening posts into most of Indochina and southern China. The joint CIA/DIA structure called the Strategic Warning Staff, is headquartered in the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) and operated a number of similar posts as the one in Manila. The Manila station includes very sizeable logistical capabilities for a wide range of clandestine operations against Asian governments.
The loss of the bases in the Philippines was a tremendous blow to the CIA's Asian infrastructure, if not a major setback. From the mid-50s, the US bases in the Philippines served as operational headquarters for "Operation Brotherhood" which operated in Indochina under the direct supervision of the CIA's Col. Edward Lansdale and Lucien Conien, and it involved several Filipinos who were recruited and trained by the CIA. Lansdale was the classic CIA operative in Southeast Asia who was romanticized in Graham Greene's novel, The Quiet American. Lansdale was even appointed by former President Ramon Magsaysay as his "military adviser" but was, in fact, his speechwriter as well, who determined Magsaysay's foreign and military policy. So successful was the CIA in pulling the strings thru Lansdale that in 1954, a high-level US committee reported that, "American policy in Southeast Asia was most effectively represented in the Philippines, where any expanded program of Western influence may best be launched."
Examples of such programs were the Freedom Company of the Philippines, Eastern Construction Co. and "Operation Brotherhood," which provided "a mechanism to permit the deployment of Filipino personnel in other Asian countries, for unconventional operations covertly supported by the Philippines." (Shalom, 1986). The CIA also actively used Philippine territory, particularly Clark Air Base, for the training and launching of operatives and logistics in the late 1950s, where the US covertly supported dissident Indonesian colonels in the failed armed overthrow of Indonesian President Sukarno. The CIA then established supply, training and logistical bases on several islands in the Philippines, including an airstrip in the Tawi-Tawi Island of Sanga-Sanga. A CIA-owned proprietary company, the Civil Air Transport, was actively used by the CIA from Philippine territory to give direct assistance to Indonesian military rebel groups attempting to overthrow Indonesian President Sukarno in the late 1950s.
Manila was also the center of operations for the Trans-Asiatic Airlines Inc., a CIA outfit operating along the Burma-China border against the People's Republic of China. Using the Trans-Asiatic Airlines Inc. as a front company, the CIA recruited for this operation in the early 1950s several Filipino aviators who were World War II veterans, including operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who were still in active service.
In his memoirs, former Philippine Ambassador to Burma Narciso G. Reyes narrates that one of these Filipino "undercover" MIS agents posed as the labor attache at the Philippine embassy in Rangoon even before this was formally established. The Filipino CIA undercover agent was also reporting to the American ambassador to Burma from whom he was also getting paid! (Reyes, 1995).
Side by side with CIA proprietary companies Civil Air Transport, Sea Supply Co. and Western Enterprises Co., the agency used Trans-Asiatic Airlines Inc. in an attempt to invade the People's Republic of China in the early 1950s, using the mercenary Chinese warlord Gen. Li Mi as leader of the invasion force. After a few skirmishes with the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Gen. Li Mi later on "retired" and pocketed the US financial and military assistance for an invasion against China and concentrated on the lucrative opium trade along the Burmese-Thai border.
US military advisers of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) and the CIA station in Manila designed and led the bloody suppression of the nationalist Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) which was vehemently opposed to the post-war Parity Rights amendment and the onerous military agreements with the United States. The CIA's success in crushing the peasant-based Huk rebellion in the 1950s made this operation the model for future counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and Latin America. Colonel Lansdale and his Filipino sidekick, Col. Napoleon Valeriano were later to use their counterguerrilla experience in the Philippines for training covert operatives in Vietnam and in the US-administered School of the Americas, which trained counterguerrilla assassins for Latin America. Thus, the Philippines had become the CIA's prototype in successful covert operations and psychological warfare.
After his stint in the Philippines using propaganda, psywar and deception against the Huk movement, Lansdale was then assigned in Vietnam to wage military, political and psychological warfare. It was Lansdale's view that the tactics that he used to solve the problem in the Philippines were applicable to Vietnam. He was wrong. In 1975, after two decades of protracted warfare, the Vietnamese people defeated the strongest superpower on earth.
The CIA's actions and activities in its Manila station have never been limited to information gathering. Information gathering is but a part of an offensive strategy to attack, neutralize and undermine any organization, institution, personality or activity they consider a danger to the stability and power of the United States. The late Senator Claro M. Recto was believed to have been a victim of the CIA's dirty tricks department because of his staunch crusade against the US military bases in the Philippines. It is now a well-documented fact that General Ralph B. Lovett, then the CIA station chief in Manila and the US ambassador, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, had discussed a plan to assassinate Recto using a vial of poison. A few years later, Recto was to die mysteriously of heart attack (though he had no known heart ailment) in Rome after an appointment with two Caucasians in business suits. Before this, the CIA had made every effort to assure the defeat of Recto in the 1957 presidential election wherein the CIA manufactured and distributed defective condoms with a label that said, "Courtesy of Claro M. Recto--the People's Friend." Could it be that Recto was a victim of the CIA's covert operations, or what they call "executive action" against those perceived as dangerous enemies of the United States?
It was also during the time of Recto and the Huks that the CIA covertly sponsored the Security Training Center as a "countersubversion, counterguerrilla and psychological warfare school" on the outskirts of Manila. CIA funds concentrated on the sensitive area of "rural development" and funds were channeled to the National Movement for Free Elections' (Namfrel) community centers, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and a rural development project called Committee for Philippine Action in Development, Reconstruction and Education (COMPADRE) thru CIA fronts and conduits like the Catherwood Foundation and the "Committee for a Free Asia (CFA), later renamed the Asia Foundation." (Shalom, 1986).
In the late 1980s, the CIA assigned Vietnam veteran U.S. General John Singlaub to organize anti-communist vigilante groups all over the country for mass terror, particularly as part of the Philippine government's "total war policy" against people's movements. General Singlaub posed as an American "treasure hunter" and even secured all the necessary official permits for treasure hunting in the Philippines. Another operative active in the "total war" operations in the Philippines was Vietnam counterinsurgency specialist Col. James Rowe, Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) adviser, whose cover was blown off when he was ambushed in 1989 by urban guerrillas of the New People's Army in Timog Avenue, Quezon City. Rowe was clandestinely involved in the organization of anti-communist death squads like Alsa Masa and vigilante groups patterned after "Operation Phoenix" in Vietnam which had the objective of eliminating legal and semi-legal mass activists and their political sympathizers that constituted the political infrastructure of the insurgency movement.
The CIA lost its huge telecommunications installation at Clark Air Base--the Regional Relay Station when the Philippine Senate rejected on Sept. 16, 1991, the proposed treaty for the bases' renewal. Before 1970, according to a former CIA operative, the sprawling Subic Naval Base was the site of a China operations group of the CIA and "the agency even constructed 100 expensive modern homes, a large two-story office building and a big warehouse at Subic Bay." (Smith, 1976)
There is, however, a vital covert installation that the CIA was able to retain and maintain: the "Regional Service Center" (RSC). Located along Roxas Boulevard in Manila at the Seafront Compound about a mile south from the US Embassy, the RSC fronts as a facility of the United States Information Service (USIS), formerly called the US International Communications Agency. This ultra-modern printing facility functions as a secret CIA propaganda plant. It has the ability to produce large quantities of high-quality color offset magazines, posters, leaflets and the like in at least 14 Asian languages.
During the Vietnam War, the RSC was ceaselessly involved in economic sabotage against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) or North Vietnam. The RSC was involved in counterfeiting North Vietnamese currency which were airdropped all over the DRV to sabotage the economy and weaken the country's resistance. The CIA's Technical Services Division maintains close liaison with the RSC, which still actively operates within the Seafront Compound along Roxas Boulevard. The post-Vietnam War and later on, the post-bases era has only increased the importance of Manila as a major listening post and regional headquarters of the Agency.
A former junior case officer of the CIA, Janine Brookner, who was stationed in Manila described the capital city of the Philippines as "a wild place" for CIA operatives who spent a lot of time in bars, sex shows and brothels. This was because, according to her, the standard CIA procedure for recruiting targets was to "get him drunk, get him laid, and then get him on the Agency's dole." Brookner was an attractive but determined blonde who claimed to have developed assets in both the government and the Communist Party during her assignment to the Philippines. Brookner was also a very productive recruiter who, as a handler of important assets and as a CIA case officer, claims to be able to make her targets confess everything. "You take care of them," Brookner recalls, "and they tell you their fears and nightmares...I'm good at people depending on me." In fact, her targets, especially high-ranking Philippine government officials, often propositioned her. (Starobin, 1997)
The CIA has long utilized in the Philippines sophisticated or subtle means for clandestine propaganda, such as the manipulation of trade unions and cultural organizations, rather than heavy-handed activities such as paramilitary operations, political assassinations and coups as they had done extensively in Africa, Latin America and Vietnam. During my interview in 1996 with Ralph McGehee, a former CIA agent, and other former CIA operatives assigned to the Manila station, I was told that the CIA had many unheralded successes in the Philippines such as the manipulation of the trade union movement through the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) and through funds which were channeled thru the USAID, Asia Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy.
In a recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, American sociologist James Petras describes how progressive non-government organizations can be neutralized, if not coopted, thru US government, big business-backed funding agencies or CIA fronts and conduits masquerading as foundations. The purpose, according to Petras, is "to mystify and deflect discontent away from direct attacks on the corporate/banking power structure and profits toward local micro-projects ...that avoids class analysis of imperialism and capitalist exploitation." Neo-liberalism today, according to Petras, encourages NGOs to "emphasize projects, not movements; they 'mobilize' people to produce at the margins, not to struggle to control the means of production and wealth; they focus on the technical financial aspects of projects not on structural conditions that shape the everyday lives of people." While using the language of the Left such as "people empowerment," "gender equality," "sustainable development" etc., these NGOs funded by USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Asia Foundation, etc. have become linked to a framework of collaboration with donors and even with government agencies with whom they have partnerships that subordinate activity to nonconfrontational politics, rather than militant mass mobilization. (Petras, 1999)
It must be emphasized that the US places high premium on the ideological legitimation of its continuing neo-colonial domination over the Philipines and, as such, depends heavily on US-financed and US-sponsored institutions, especially on the ideological front. Thus, grants are generously poured in by such agencies like USAID, NED, Asia Foundation and the big business-sponsored Ford Foundation. The objective is to constantly lure and lull the masses into the elite-dominated electoral process, thus legitimizing the neo-liberal economic system and its political apparatus, producing a fragile social peace and a "peaceful" mechanism for competition among the Filipino elite and oligarchy. In his book on French colonialism in Algeria titled, The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon wrote:
"Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in itsgrip, and emptying the native's brain of all form and content.By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it."
One of the most critical moments of the CIA station in Manila was the immediate post-Marcos years when they tried to dissociate US links with the Marcoses and politically influence the contours of the post-Marcos era. Financial, technical and political support for the pro-US "agents of influence" assured the dominance of pro-US local elites and institutions as a counterweight to the progressive anti-imperialist, anti-Marcos forces that threatened to define and restructure the architecture of the post-Marcos neo-colonial regime.
USAID was directed to grant the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) with a generous financing so it could formulate a position paper on an economic program anchored on "the partnership between labor and capital." USAID even temporarily set up an agrarian reform office, working closely at TUCP offices. Political analysts of the CIA and USAID wanted to design an agrarian reform program that would not disrupt the agro-export sector and one which could be synchronized with the counterinsurgency program and defuse peasant unrest. The CIA and US military advisers also wanted a deeper role in the design and command of counterinsurgency. These funds were supplemented by the so-called "democracy promotion" initiatives of the NED which poured in heavy funding for TUCP, Namfrel, the Women's Movement for the Nurturing of Democracy (KABATID) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). The NED gave a total of $9 million from 1984-1990 to these institutions and organizations.
Following the ouster of Marcos, the US set about to transform the "new" Armed Forces of the Philippines into an effective counterinsurgency force that would integrate military, political, economic and social initiatives, including broad "civic action" campaigns, psychological operations, military aid and training. It was a massive comeback of the low-intensity conflict years of the Magsaysay-Lansdale era! Between 1987-1990, Washington reportedly authorized stepped-up clandestine CIA operations against the Left in the Philippines, including a $10 million allocation to the AFP for enhanced intelligence-gathering operations. There was also an increase in the number of CIA personnel, from 115 to 127, mostly attached as "diplomats" to the US embassy in Manila. (Oltman and Bernstein, 1992)
In general, US military and economic aid are used quite effectively and they remain key elements of US policy in the Philippines. The CIA station handles political aid and political matters. This means, according to the CIA's Intelligence Memorandum on the 1965 Philippine presidential elections for instance, assuring that the victorious national candidates who are acceptable to the US should be "western-oriented and pledge to continue close and equitable relations with the US and the West on matters of mutual interest." (Bonner, 1987) The CIA station also conducts widespread covert operations, among them: stage-managed national elections to assure preferred US outcome; payoffs to government officials under the guise of grants; financing for favored business and civic groups and pro-US propaganda campaigns among the population; the supply of intelligence information on activists and dissidents to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and so on. (Robinson, 1996)
Among the most prominent CIA fronts in Manila is the Asia Foundation with offices at Magallanes Village, Makati. According to a former US State Department bureaucrat William Blum in a recent book, the "Asia Foundation is the principal CIA front" and funding conduit in Asia. The Asia Foundation funds and supports known anti-communist groups or influential personalities, i.e. academics, journalists, local officials, etc. and institutions. (Blum, 1999) According to the former executive assistant to the CIA's Deputy Director for Operations Victor Marchetti in his book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, the Asia Foundation had the objective "to disseminate throughout Asia a negative vision of Mainland China, North Vietnam, and North Korea." (Marchetti and Marks, 1980 edition). New York Times investigative journalist Raymond Bonner has also identified the Asia Foundation as "a CIA creation" and "front" in one of his books, Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy (1987). My interviews with former CIA operatives in the Philippines in 1996 confirm the active use of this foundation for the "Agency."
But the most credible and authoritative source that I have come across identifying the Asia Foundation as a CIA front and conduit is Marchetti's book where the CIA-Asia Foundation link is defined in no uncertain terms:
"Another organization heavily subsidized by the CIA was the Asia Foundation. Established by the agency (CIA) in 1956, with a carefully chosen board of directors, the foundation was designed to promote academic and private interest in the East. It sponsored scholarly research, supported conferences and symposia, and ran academic exchange programs, a CIA subsidy that reached $88 million dollars a year. While most of the foundation's activities were legitimate, the CIA also used it...to recruit foreign agents and new officers. Although the foundation often served as a cover for clandestine operations, its main purpose was to promote the spread of ideas which were anti-communist and pro-American--sometimes subtly and stridently...Designed--and justified at budget time--as an overseas propaganda operation, the Asia Foundation also was regularly guilty of propagandizing the American people with agency views on Asia. The Agency's connection with the Asia Foundation came to light just after the 1967 exposure of CIA subsidies to the (American) National Student Association. The foundation clearly was one of the organizations that the CIA was banned from financing and, under the recommendations of the Katzenbach committee, the decision was made to end CIA funding. A complete cut-off after 1967, however, would have forced the foundation to shut down, so the agency made it the beneficiary of a large 'severance payment' in order to give it a couple of years to develop alternative sources of funding. Assuming the CIA has not resumed covert funding, the Asia Foundation has apparently made itself self-sufficient now.... during the 1960s, the CIA developed proprietary companies for use in propaganda operations. These proprietaries are more compact proprietaries and more covert than the now exposed fronts like Asia Foundation and Radio Free Europe." (Marchetti and Marks, pp.157-158)
The CIA-linked Asia Foundation has long been active in the Philippines. It has generously funded academic seminars, researches, study tours, and conferences in most of the leading Philippine universities, most especially among many colleagues and programs at the University of the Philippines (UP).
You name it, they have their fingers stuck into it! Many nongovernment organizations, journalists, local governments and civic organizations have had their projects funded by Asia Foundation. This is what makes it strategic and well-placed, thus naturally, a matter of great concern and alarm to friends and colleagues in both the academe and the NGO sector who may be very upset by this information on the origins and CIA links of the Asia Foundation. But I did not invent this issue about the CIA-created Asia Foundation. I merely documented the previous testimonies from mostly open sources. It is part of the CIA's history in this country, which I have documented from the accounts of former CIA agents and operatives. Many recipients of Asia Foundation grants as well as the Filipino staff of the Asia Foundation in Manila may not even be aware of its notorious history. But now we know a little better.
It is important to note that in 1961, the chief of the CIA's Covert Action Staff wrote that books were "the most important weapon of strategic propaganda." Tens of thousands of books have been produced, subsidized or sponsored by the CIA and its conduits such as the Asia Foundation in support of US foreign and military policy.
Together with the National Security Agency, the CIA also maintains "Project Echelon," the most sophisticated and the most technologically advanced eavesdropping system that has ever been devised. Through a relay system of satellites and spook stations in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and United States, the US intelligence system is able to intercept all telephone, fax, e-mail, Internet and cellphone transmissions worldwide. Its nerve center is located at Fort Meade in Maryland where the NSA maintains its headquarters. This has grave implications for both our public and private security.
The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has developed a global surveillance system, Echelon, which is a powerful electronic net operated by super-computers that intercept, monitor and process all phone, fax, e-mail and modem signals. The European Parliament in a 1998 report entitled, "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control" has listed serious concerns and has recommended an intensive investigation of US-NSA operations. The NSA Echelon system provides awesome potential for abuse against civilian targets and governments worldwide, even against allies of the United States.
It can be recalled that under the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the coverage for special privileges and criminal immunity includes not only US armed forces personnel but also "civilian personnel who are employed by the US armed forces and who are accompanying the US armed forces." These US "civilians" include technicians of the secretive US National Security Agency which, during the existence of the US bases here, operated the spy communications facilities at Clark, Subic and Camp John Hay, among others. (Simbulan, 1985) All private citizens' and government communications are intercepted and monitored by the Echelon System.
According to Nicky Hager's book, Secret Power (1986) which deals with the international electronic spy network, the US has not only been using its NSA Echelon system to collect political, military and economic intelligence against its enemies, but it also targets its own allies. According to Hager:
"...there is extensive interception of the ASEAN countries, including the Philippines....ASEAN meetings receive special attention with both public and private communications of these countries being intercepted to reveal the topics discussed, positions being taken and policy being considered."
Through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the US plans to fully restore its Echelon system in the Philippines which was greatly interrupted by the pullout of US military facilities and bases in 1992. The CIA heavily relies on the Echelon Project for its technologically advanced Signal Intelligence or SIGNIT, which is managed by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Every CIA station is virtually an infrastructure for political, military, cultural and even economic intervention. In the Philippines, the CIA has not only functioned as a listening post but has been actively used to engage in covert operations, sabotage and political intervention to undermine Philippine sovereignty and self-determined national policies. Former CIA operatives in the Philippines confirm the use of official "diplomatic covers," especially in the political section of the US Embassy where they are given secure communications, protected files and diplomatic immunity. They have also used "non-official covers," disguised as businessmen in US firms. Covers under the guise of US naval or air force personnel are now minimal after the US bases and military facilities in the Philipines were dismantled. But as we can now see, the CIA has long been operating with virtual impunity and has always gotten away with its deep involvement in Philippine domestic affairs. Shall we allow this continued intervention in Philippine political and economic life?
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|Rally cries for justice for Gregan Cardeño's death in US Camp in Marawi|
CRY JUSTICE. A Maranao anti-Balikatan activist holds a picture of Gregan Cardeño in a rally at MSU Marawi on Cardeño's death anniversary February 2. Cardeño worked as an interpreter for the US troops when he was found dead in Camp Ranao. US troops have failed to divulge circumstances surrounding his death
A member of the Patriotiko Mindanao coalition speaks in a rally commemorating the death of Gregan Cardeño, an interpreter for US troops who died in mysterious circumstances in Camp Ranao, Marawi City.
The Patriotiko Mindanao coalition staged a rally in front of Camp Ranao, Marawi City. A year ago, Gregan Cardeño, an interpreter for the US troops, was found dead in the camp. The coalition demand justice and accountability from US troops for Cardeño's death.
|A cultural group performs an interpretative rendition of the death of Gregan Cardeño.|