The issue with US soldiers fighting Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Philippine soil stems from an article in the Philippine Constitution, which stipulates that no foreign military bases or troops are to be allowed into the country without a mutually agreed treaty to that effect. That’s exactly what the “Visiting Forces Agreement” (VFA) is about, but, as ex-Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago points out (yes, I know, I know, she’s a crazy, loudmouthed, vindictive, pro-Erap witch, but the lady does have brains, unstable though they may be, and she does know international law like the back of her hand), the VFA does not cover “political activity” by the visiting military entity. But how can the “War on Terror,” or indeed any kind of military intervention, not be deemed political in some way?
This brings to light the international problem with the US war on terror: America will attack and root out terrorists who pose a threat to its interests, and the sovereignty of the Philippines — or of any other country which may be suspect — be damned. The other side of the coin, however, is the argument that the Philippine military is simply too inept and/or corrupt to deal with the problems of terrorism and insurgency posed by groups like the Abu Sayyaf or the NPA — an argument which I would be hard-pressed to disagree with.
Will the American military simply leave the Philippines once they are done routing the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups? Somehow I doubt it; such a goal is far less cut-and-dried than the mere process of killing a bunch of Muslim insurgents and building a few roads and bridges. Because of that I feel uneasy, and I wonder about the future of the archipelago, and whether the nascent military grip of a potential American empire is better or worse for the Filipino’s welfare.