MILF pact could allow US bases in Bangsamoro homeland

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THE United States (US) may be granted basing rights in Mindanao by the Bangsamoro Political Entity once the final peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is signed and set into motion, according to an in-house think tank of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

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The Office of Strategic and Special Studies (OSS), a unit under the military, said Washington played a pivotal role in the peace talks both directly, through “secret” meetings between US officials and MILF leaders, and indirectly, by providing aid.

“One thought is about an American-led plot to lend a debt of gratitude by helping Mindanao become independent and get repaid in terms of grant of US rights to set up bases there,” the OSS said in a book it published, “In Assertion of Sovereignty: The Peace Process.”

The paper was authored by Cesar Pobre and Raymond Jose Quilop, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines who has been providing policy directions to the AFP over the last two decades.

According to the OSS, General Santos City in South Cotabato is being considered as the future site for a US base.

“In any event, whatever interest the US may have in the peace process, it may be well to keep in mind that from 1999 to 2008, six meetings between US government officials and MILF leaders have reportedly taken place. In February 2008, [Former] US Ambassador Kristie Kenney paid a visit to the main rebel base of Camp Darapanan in the town of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and met with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad and Central Committee members,” the book said.

The meetings were so secret that “the visit was done apparently with no prior coordination with the appropriate government authorities.”

“The day before the visit, Kenney was with then DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo for the opening of the Balikatan exercises,” it said.

Reports about Kenney’s “secret” meeting with the MILF leaders was first made public by Wikileaks in 2011 through the release of purportedly secret cables from the US Embassy in Manila to Washington. The OSS book confirmed this.

It was widely known that after declaring war on terror following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, the US government worried that Mindanao would become a “sanctuary or training ground for international terrorists.” Washington was aware of the MILF’s supposed links to Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.

“Apparently, Ambassador Kenney was interested in the progress of the peace talks and the creation of a new autonomous region under MILF rule. An exchange of views regarding the Balikatan exercises was reported to have been done,” the OSS said.

Reserved power
But Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the observation may be out of place in the context of the new deal being forged with the MILF.

For one, granting the US being basing rights here is a power “reserved to the national government,” Deles said.

Asked if the Bangsamoro Political Entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) could actually enter into such an agreement, Deles replied: “No.”

“Foreign policy is a reserved power of the national government! That is very clearly stated in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and in the power-sharing annex,” she said in a text message to The Manila Times.

CIA front
The OSS book said Washington was considered a “major stakeholder” in the peace process and had actually used organizations that were believed to be fronting for the Central Intelligence Agency. One of these agencies is the US Institute for Peace (USIP) through the Philippine Facilitation Project.

The OSS, citing several sources, said the USIP’s “true objective is to infiltrate the MILF.”

“The US through the USIP guided the crafting of the [defunct]MOA-AD [memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain]to serve its tactical and strategic objectives in the country as well as in the Southeast Asian region,” it noted.

The allegations were denied by Kenney who pointed out that the USIP acted on its own in preparing a study paper on the peace process that did not reflect Washington’s position, but “she did not mention, however, that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was among the ex-officio members of the institute.”

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10 Comments

  1. Rosauro Feliciano on

    Well what is wrong with having US bases in Mindanao when we have been under the influence of American cultures for over a century? The living testimony is our standard official medium of communication, which is the American English. Let the followers of the late President Quezon beat the chests in anger.

  2. This would be nice, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Personally I think they should put an US Air Force base in Samar, but that’s just me. Of course the military would have to be restricted and follow Philippine law. We don’t want a big mess like they left at Clark in 1991. I can only see this benefitting everyone involved, but I’m sure someone will be protesting it. The US military has helped many Filipino people in Mindanao during the joint training exercises that have been conducted there. I know that the people there appreciated it, but the people in Manila protested it big time.

  3. It seems to me, that there is a feeling of wellbeing among majority of Filipinos that when the BANGSA MORO is finally singed and approved as constitutional, that it is almost a forgone conclusion that there is going to be an American base in General Santos, that those people/Legislators against that idea will no longer have relevance, because the BANGSA MORO government will be given freedom to decide what is good for the Entity. and the Philippine government as a partner, is not going to oppose it.

  4. jose b. taganahan on

    I suspected that the United States government acted as apowerful backer of the proposed MILF-PH peace agreement on the singular desire to be able to established anew a military base in the Philippines now, particularly in Mindanao. But even if i am not a lawyer, establishing US military bases is still clearly unconstitutional even if the US will build their new US bases with in the proposed bangsamoro territory since the same territory is stil part of the republic of the Philippines

  5. You are missing the point, regardless of whether bases will be allowed or not, the main issue is the installation of Sharia, as it will be an islamic state. Remember the name?

    “Bangsamoro” means Muslim Nation…therefore a state. That;s why they are now busy crafting its “Basic Law”…a basic law is a constitution…

    What is this? a “nation’ within a nation? Another parallel constitution? WTF!

    To those dreaming of visiting beaches, or expecting investors to flock there, think hard—is there tourism, investment, entertainment, democracy, personal liberties, education, peace in any Islamic country…? None..they NOTHING but Islam and Sharia…

    If you do not understand Islam, peace is only possible with them, IF THE WHOLE WORLD IS ISLAMIZED, or Dar Al Islam….otherwise it is DAr Al Harb, or state of war with unbelievers…Go visit its pristine beaches if you are WILLING to convert to islam, otherwise it is a NO-GO ZONE for non-Muslims…!

    And if you think the Islamists are all for peace, and are cooperating…think again, and read the QURAN….they have adoctrine called Al Taqiyyah, meaning all muslims must lie, cooperate, pretend, deceive in order to achieve what they want….until they are stronger!

    Watch videos of what’s happening now to all European countries, now being islamized,,,search youtube under “Islamization of Europe”.

    Don’t be rejoicing for something that you will be beheaded for in 5-10 years.,,!
    The worst is this will push the religious issue to the fore, hence RELIGIOUS WARS! The worst kind of war…

  6. Sec. Deles is true. Foreign policy is within the reserved power of the central government. South Cotabato specially general Santos city is not included in the Bangsamoro Territory. so i don’t know where did the writer get his information.

  7. Well the cat ( the US bases) is out of the bag ika nga. This peace agreement kuno will be signed and delivered. Surely there will be peace- finally once the US bases starts operating in the Bangsa Moro Area. The USA does not have the strongest Military in the World for nothing. If this happens the Bangsa Moro area will be the new darling of Tourism with its miles and miles of pristine beaches and available seafoods. Boracay’s No.1 spot is in danger.

  8. Felix Servidad on

    That would be vital for our own interests, and in the region, there will be a balance of power, our giant neighbour will stop bullying their tiny neighbours, but the Americans should be place under the Philippine law, so that there will be no abuses in the future.