The Reasoned Review

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Two Views of the Philippines

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In today’s issue of the Times one can read an article detailing gross human rights abuses in the Philippines. The opening anecdote is of a Filipino-American who traveled to her homeland in order to get in touch with her ancestral roots. Once there, she found herself under arrest, tortured, and repeatedly accused of “communism”. Her torture was lessened once the authorities learned of her American citizenship – indeed, that likely saved her life – but they continued to lash her for some time afterward, releasing her only after six full days.

After detailing such horrific treatment, the Times attributes the blame to the Filipino military, and particularly to president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Ms. Arroyo has “come under fire”, as the Time puts it, for “alleged human-rights violations” which have “hounded” the Arroyo presidency since 2001. Rights organizations in the Philippines estimate over 1,000 tortured or dead in “anti-communist” actions. Human Rights Watch claims “deep concern about routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody.”

One cannot, after reading the above article, come away with a positive picture of the Philippine government. It is therefore all the more surprising to see the below image, of President Obama laughing with the perpetrator of such “alleged human-rights violations”. Though the New York Times dares not mention it, our government has heavily invested in the Philippine military, and likely supplies the aforementioned torturers’ paychecks.

President Obama laughing with Philippine President Arroyo

President Obama laughing with Philippine President Arroyo

Here are a few more facts The New York Times considers beneath its notice. This is straight from the Embassy of the Philippines website, May 13, 2009:

“In the proposed budget, an estimated total amount of US$667 million is to be allocated to the Philippines”

“The U.S. is the Philippines’ only mutual defense treaty partner and is the largest source of foreign military financing.”

“U.S. Foreign Military Financing to the Philippines, which contributes to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization efforts, is the 12th largest in the world.”

To be fair, I should mention the above article also makes mention of various “poverty-alleviation” donations, but it is clear from both its substance and tone that military expenditures comprise the bulk of US aid.  That is, for the same military The New York Times accuses of torturing “communists”.

The frightening aspect of all of this is the fact that if one were only to read the Times for their foreign news, they would be totally unaware of US support for the atrocities now occurring in the Philippines. The article I cite makes absolutely no mention of it. Eerily, however,  it quotes a Filipino Army Colonel, describing the communists: “They have perfected the art of deception”.

One could say no less of The New York Times.


Written by pavanvan

August 13, 2009 at 12:41 am

One Response

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  1. Isn’t it interesting that the NYT has a policy prohibiting its use of the word torture to describe abusive, “enhanced” interrogation practices on our prisoners, but no words are too innuendo-laden for describing the methods of other governments and their militaries…


    August 13, 2009 at 5:42 pm

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