The Biden government is contemptible for pushing through with the possible sale of more military weapons to the Duterte tyrannical regime in exchange for securing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which Duterte has repeatedly play-acted to scrap.
Last June 24, the US State Department’s issued a certification approving the Duterte government’s request to buy ₱118 billion worth of fighter jets (ten F-16C fighter jets and two F-16D fighter jets), missiles and other war matériel. The approval came only weeks after the Philippines decided to again suspend the abrogation of the VFA until the end of 2021, and days after the most recent delivery of weapons by the US military to the Philippines.
The State Department’s certification, which will have to secure the approval of the US congress, brazenly disregards the Philippine Human Rights Act, a bill filed by US representatives seeking to suspend arms sale or military assistance to the Duterte government in the face of rampant violations of human rights.
US President Joe Biden is inviting the Filipino people’s anger for propping up Duterte’s murderous regime in the form of extending continuous military support.
The planned military acquisition is a waste of the people’s money especially in the face of the pressing need to increase state spending on health and social services amid the pandemic.
Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana is falsely justifying the exorbitant military spending by claiming that the acquisition of multirole fighter aircraft is necessary to enhance the “defense of our country’s territorial airspace from any form of threat” noting China’s ever-increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
In practice, however, fighter planes acquired by the AFP over the past years have been used not to defend against Chinese encroachment but to drop bombs in the countryside directly endangering civilian communities suspected of being guerrilla zones and bases of the New People’s Army.
Last April 6, two FA-50 fighter jets dropped six bombs and strafed the forested areas of Barangay Kasapa 2 in La Paz, Agusan del Sur, near farms and houses of Lumad residents.
Such indiscriminate attacks endanger people’s lives and livelihood and cause massive environmental destruction. Clearly, Lorenzana’s subterfuge only aims to justify the US’ continuous support for the fascist Duterte regime’s campaign of killings amid growing domestic and international clamor to block US military aid to the Philippines.