Is the Philippine Military Supporting Terrorism?

In 2001 U.S. military aid to the Philippines increased from $2
million to $80 million. The war on terrorism was going splendidly.
Then a Pentagon spokesperson said U.S. troops would ‘actively
participate’ in combat operations. The public outcry was massive —
a clause in the Philippine constitution does not allow for combat
by foreign soldiers — and the joint military operation involving
more than 3,000 U.S. troops was called off. In the six months since
the Pentagon foot-in-mouth there has been a significant increase in
terrorist attacks. The question is, writes Naomi Klein in The
Nation
, who is really behind these attacks?

On July 27 a group of 300 mutinous soldiers rigged a Manila
shopping mall with C-4 as a soapbox for accusing the Philippine
government of supporting terrorism so as to justify increasing U.S.
military aid and intervention. Klein writes that the soldiers
claims include:

  • that senior military officials, in collusion with the Arroyo
    regime, carried out last March’s bombing of the airport of the
    southern city of Davao, as well as several other attacks.
    Thirty-eight people were killed in the bombings. The leader of the
    mutiny, Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, claims to have ‘hundreds’ of
    witnesses who can testify to the plot;
  • that the army has fueled terrorism in Mindanao by selling
    weapons and ammunition to the very rebel forces the young soldiers
    were sent to fight;
  • that members of the military and police helped prisoners
    convicted of terrorist crimes escape from jail. The ‘final
    validation,’ according to Trillanes, was Father Rohman al-Ghozi’s
    July 14 escape from a heavily guarded Manila prison. Al-Ghozi is a
    notorious bomb-maker with the group Jemaah Islamiyah, which has
    been linked to both the Bali and Marriott attacks;
  • that the government was on the verge of staging a new string of
    bombings to justify declaring martial law.

While the soldiers’ tactics were widely condemned, their claims
were widely seen as legitimate. Klein writes that ‘Local newspaper
reports described the army’s selling of weapons to rebels as ‘an
open secret’ and ‘common knowledge.”

What is more disgusting than the possibility that a government
would kill its own citizens to boost U.S. support? The possibility
that the U.S. government is helping in the plot. In an incident
that has not been reported in the U.S. press, an American citizen,
Michael Meiring, injured himself after blowing up a bomb in his
hotel room. Two men who identified themselves as FBI agents plucked
Meiring out of the hospital and flew him back to America. Klein
writes, ‘BusinessWorld, a leading Philippine newspaper,
has published articles openly accusing Meiring of being a CIA agent
involved in covert operations ‘to justify the stationing of
American troops and bases in Mindanao.’

Why hasn’t any of this seen more media exposure? As Klein
concludes, ‘Maybe it just seemed too outlandish: an out-of-control
government fanning the flames of terrorism to pump up its military
budget, hold on to power and violate civil liberties. Why would
Americans be interested in something like that?’
Joel Stonington

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Mutiny in Manila

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