“Pwede ba tayong patalo sa mga yan? Anong mukhang ihaharap natin sa embassy? Kaya i-disperse mo ‘yan”
This was the verbatim quote of the ‘ground commander’ of the Phil. National Police during their violent dispersal of an indigenous peoples-led protest in front of the U.S Embassy yesterday.
While the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been making anti-U.S statements and has been leaning towards an independent foreign policy (as opposed to those of all past administrations in the Philippines), the local police have shown pro-American sympathies, or if the above quote is to be believed, even take orders directly from the U.S State Department.
Why do you need to rally at the U.S Embassy when Digong is already kicking the Americans out?
It highlights how deep U.S influence is in Philippine society, especially in ‘critical’ areas such as state security and the armed forces. Indeed, it answers the question by some on “Why do activists have to protest against U.S intervention when Duterte is already taking action?”. How can the president end U.S intervention when the sectors and institutions who are supposed to support him are actually against his policies?
It would not be surprising if there is actually a secret ‘chain of command’ between state security forces (the PNP and AFP) and the American government given how the latter has funded the training of the former, particularly its officers, as part of their supposed ‘foreign aid’ (hello Agot Isidro).
Like all things under capitalism, ‘foreign aid’ to the PNP and AFP had strings attached. And I quote:
“American assistance, according to the Agreement, would be in the form of arms, ammunitions, equipment and supplies… The most important of the assistance given by the U.S along this line consists of: 1) Military Advisory Group… The agreement ensures control over the AFP thru JUSMAG (Joint U.S Military Advisory Group) military advisors – who extend strategic staff direction, logistics, training and intelligence coordination with the AFP”.
Fine, so the Lumads are fighting for their ancestral lands. Why were they in front of the U.S Embassy though? Was it the Americans’ fault?
U.S economic interests dictated the need for a U.S military presence in the country. Around the same time our government signed the first U.S Military Assistance Agreement (1947), we also signed treaties with America ensuring that only foreigners, and a small number of Filipinos working with them, benefitted from the economy.
These included the Bell Trade Act which allowed foreigners to own our natural resources, to the disadvantage of local businesses; and the Laurel-Langley Agreement, which allowed 100% ownership of all corporations. While those agreements now belong in a Museum, newer policies have replaced them with the same effect, such as our entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Mining Act of 1995 (off the top of my head).
The results of these policies are well-known: despite the mining industry being controlled mostly by foreigners and being worth billions of pesos, mining communities have the highest poverty rates in the country; after two decades of membership in the WTO, prices of basic food stuffs have doubled or even tripled, while local farmers producing the same have gone bankrupt.
Hence, another common, though annoying, question is answered: why did the Lumads and other national minorities have to rally in front of the U.S Embassy?
Answer: because it was decades of interference by the Americans in our affairs which caused many of our social problems.
So did the U.S order the Oct. 19 violent dispersal to destabilize the Duterte administration?
Not only is the PNP and the AFP against the pro-independence and pro-Filipino agenda of the Duterte Administration (lacking in many areas as it may be), but they also constitute an active threat against it.
Historically, the U.S has overthrown many governments hostile to their own agenda. There’s Iraq which was invaded in 2003 under the pretext that it had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (hint: no group has ever found one until today), Chile whose democratically elected government was overthrown by a CIA-funded military coup (hint: official U.S documents already spell that out, no use denying it), to name a few.
We even have our own examples: Marcos zombies are fond of saying that America helped remove Ferdinand Marcos from power. Yes, it was true (but only after they got tired of supporting him for two corruption-filled and embarrassing decades).
So did the U.S Embassy order the police to run over and brutalize yesterday’s protesters in order to destabilize Duterte? There is no clear answer which will stand up in court. There is, however, the U.S track record of destabilizing, overthrowing, and even outright invading countries which do not support American interests. In those instances of U.S-supported coups and ‘revolutions’, the military and police have played important parts. There is also a long history of the PNP and AFP working with America.
Are those three things related?
That’s for you to decide.
 Simbulan, “The Bases of Our Insecurity”, p. 80 – 82