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Top Philippine Communist Guerrilla Spokesman Tells Militant Wire US is Stoking Inter-Imperialist War with China
US Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the Philippines on November 21, 2022, to reaffirm America’s “commitment to the defense alliance with the Philippines” and discuss ways to strengthen economic ties. The White House released a statement reiterating “the interests of the United States in peace and stability in the South China Sea” and said, “that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”
With a clear eye on China, Harris and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr spoke about greater maritime support for the country and an increase in the number of American troops rotated and stationed across the archipelago. This marks something of a shift from the position of Marcos Jr’s predecessor Rodrigo Duterte who seemingly desired a more “independent foreign policy.”
Marcos Jr declared “I have said many times: I do not see a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States.” Harris, remarking on Chinese incursions, condemned the trend of foreign vessels entering Philippine waters depleting the fishing stock and harassing local fishers. China loomed large during Harris’s visit. Manilla and Beijing have competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, and the US moves to form a security coalition in the area.
Amidst the intensifying great power competition in the region, this trend only accelerated when Washington and Manila came to an agreement earlier this month to allow the US access to four additional military bases in the Philippines. The announcement was made following a meeting between US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Marcos Jr in the capital.
A Chinese representative issued a barbed response to the news, alleging the US “continues to step up military posture in this region,” and “its actions escalate regional tension and undermine regional peace and stability.”
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Tensions between the two regional states have notably risen since with accusations levied about a Chinese ship directing a military-grade laser at a Philippine coast guard patrol vessel and then performing a close maneuver to block its path on February 6. The United States responded in short order, declaring it will defend its ally if they are attacked.
Feeling stuck in the middle of these two giants and objecting to any involvement in an “inter-imperialist war” is the Red resistance movement in the Philippines. To gain a deeper understanding of how the insurgents perceive these geopolitical developments, Militant Wire interviewed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena.
Philippine Communist Insurgents Accuse Government of Fuelling US-China War
The CPP came out strongly against the high-profile US delegation’s November visit and meetings with government officials. The group is highly adversarial to both Washington and Beijing, advocating for Philippine independence and territorial sovereignty while pushing to avoid getting stuck in the middle of an intensifying great power competition between the two behemoths.
The communist guerrillas ardently oppose what they see as a dangerous trajectory of US-China strategic rivalry in Asia as well as the Philippines leaning toward Washington. They have simultaneously scathed Chinese maritime aggression and incursions into Philippine coastal territories.
CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena told MW:
The … visit by US President Harris was conducted on the backdrop of heightening efforts of the US imperialism to stoke conflict with imperialist rival China, as well as continuing support to local counterinsurgency marked by worsening forms of state terrorism and rampant violations of human rights under the Marcos regime.
Harris' visit was intended to cement US military foothold in the Philippines by firming up plans to build more US military bases and facilities in the country, in addition to already existing five. Also, it also served to highlight US military interventionist in the local national affairs of the Philippines.
Valbuena believes the United States seeks to contain China by aggressively pursuing a “military strategy to control the "first-island chain," in which, according to the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Strategy, the US plans to establish land-based missile systems to "surround" China.” He said this is an “affront to Philippine sovereignty” as the US “aims to use the Philippines as a launching pad for a possible military conflict with China.”
Similarly, addressing the more recent news about the expansion of America’s military footprint on Philippine soil, Valbuena asserted “the recent agreement to allow the US to build its facilities inside four more military bases in the Philippines, specifically in the northern and western region provinces, forms part of the accelerated push of US imperialism to raise the temperature of its military conflict with China.”
However, at the same time, the CPP spokesman criticized Beijing’s aggression and violation of maritime sovereignty:
We denounce China's naval forces for beaming a reported military-grade laser against a Philippine coast guard ship last February 6 within the country's maritime territory. We consider this a gross violation of Philippine sovereignty. This act is clearly China's response to the plans of the US increase its military presence in the Philippines.
We call for a de-escalation of tensions by demanding both the US and Chinese military to dismantle its facilities and withdraw its military forces within the Philippines. The Filipino people must fight for Philippine sovereignty and demand the superpowers, especially the US, to stop their sabre-rattling which threaten to escalate to open armed conflict which will pull in the Philippines and other countries.
It is surprising to some that the CPP is opposed to China given its purported communist governing ideology, however, the Philippine insurgents believe Beijing has betrayed its revolutionary origins by distorting Marxism-Leninism and disempowering the proletariat, with the bourgeoisie regaining power and implementing a capitalist system.
CPP Lambasts US Support of Manila’s Counterinsurgency Efforts
The Red fighters see the US’s push for influence in the country as comprising both support for conventional military and counter-insurgency efforts.
Marco Valbuena claims that “the US government continues to push the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to intensify its war of suppression against the national and democratic forces in the Philippines.” He adds that “counterinsurgency in the Philippines is a US war aimed at suppressing forces opposed to US domination and resisting the rule of the US neocolonial state.”
Concluding the interview, MW asked Valbuena how the US military and intelligence apparatus back Philippine counter-insurgency efforts, to which he replied:
The US supports "counter-terrorism" of the AFP under the US State Department's Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines, an opaquely-funded operation under US foreign counter-terrorism operations. US troops are permanently stationed in the Philippines, and many embed themselves in AFP units to provide "advise." We have received reports of American soldiers joining AFP combat operations.
The US operates surveillance drones in the Philippines and provide real-time data to the AFP. This was openly revealed to the public during the months-long aerial bombardment of Marawi City in 2017. We are aware of American drones regularly hovering the Philippine countryside where NPA units operate.