This particular April day was the anniversary of the disappearance of a relative of my friend, a fact that she wanted to share with me. It also turns out that such disappearances are far from unusual in the Philippines – from where my friend hails – where political opponents of the regime are regularly assassinated or abducted.
The relationship between American and the Philippines has been problematic since 1898, when the USA seized it from Spain in the Spanish-American War. Short-circuiting the Filipino independence struggle already underway, America turned this archipelago into a colony – but only after carrying out a racist, genocidal war against the populace. America held the country until 1946 when it became nominally independent, but actually became a U.S. neo-colony. Since that time, there have been two major insurgencies, including the current movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its allies in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Successive Philippine governments, raising the ‘cry’ of fighting communism and terrorism (such as the more recent examples of alleged Muslim terrorism on the island of Mindanao), have conducted repressive operations against opponents, including progressive, democratic-minded individuals and groups. These governments have received both political and material support from America.
The repression being suffered in the Philippines, which rarely gains mainstream U.S. attention, includes the use of what are called “extra-judicial killings,” otherwise known as “hit squads.” A Filipino labor union activist described to me five separate attempts on his life by military and pro-business paramilitary units.
In America, there is silence concerning the Philippines. Our impression is that the Philippines is a legitimate democracy. Listening to the voice of my friend describe the disappearance of her relative made the point – there is little legitimate about the U.S.-backed regime.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is executive editor of BlackCommentator.com and is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.