By Nacho Domingo
Members of various University of the Philippines (UP) student organizations condemned the USA, branding them “imperialist forces” as “number one terrorists” in light of the night market bombing in Davao City on Sept. 2.
In a candle-lighting activity organized by the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) at the Palma Hall steps Sept. 6, the students expressed their solidarity for the 16 slain in the blast, saying the “imperialists of the government of the US” orchestrated the attacks through funding local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (ASG).
“[Imperyalista ang US dahil] sa kanilang pagpasok sa mga pampulitikal at militar na gawain sa loob ng ating bansa,” UP Praxis, one of the participating student organizations, manifested during the program.
The ASG has been responsible for terrorist attacks manifested in beheadings, bombings and kidnappings.
Since its foundation in the early 1990s at the hands of Libya-trained preacher Abdurajak Janjalani, the group has gained nationwide notoriety for acts such as the raid of the town of Ipil, Zamboanga, which led to more than 50 casualties.
The ASG has also been strongly linked to Al-Qaeda, with 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot mastermind Ramzi Yousef coordinating operations in the Philippines with Abu Sayaff’s Afghan veterans.
The bandit group has also been responsible for the Philippines’ most fatal terrorist attack to date–the bombing of a Manila Bay Ferry in 2004 which left 116 dead.
“Bukod sa pagpapakalat ng takot sa mga Pilipino, nagpapalaganap rin ang ASG ng malawakang pamamaslang at paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga mamamayan,” said STAND UP chairperson Josiah Hiponia.
At present, it has pledged its allegiance to The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Meanwhile, alternative news agency Bulatlat traced the history of Abu Sayaff members to recruits of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight US Troops in the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
While these troops were trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to counter the Moro-Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), these operations against Moro revolutionaries were armed and funded by the US.
In a July 2000, former senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. disclosed evidence of the involvement of both US and the Philippines in the operations of the ASG.
Pimentel claimed ASG partisans were being provided military intelligence as well as military services coming in the form of safe houses, safe-conduct passes, firearms and cell phones. Such was the case during the group’s Ipil raid where the military provided the terrorists military vehicles and assorted firearms.
He also said Philippine military and police funneled CIA assistance to ASG, adding that the country’s defense force did not only “handle” them but also coddled, trained and protected them.
The manipulation of the Abu Sayaff by the Philippine military was thoroughly exposed in an investigative report by the Boston Globe and the Finnish daily Hebingin Sanomat.
Their report found that the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was aware of the ASG collusion in the kidnapping of civilians in Dos Palmas in 2001.
Meanwhile, Hiponia reiterated the students’ opposition towards US imperialism.
“Isa na nga sa mga pinaka-sukdulang manipestasyon ng pakikialam at kontrol nila sa mga usaping kultural, ekonomikal at pulitikal natin ay ang ASG nga,” said Hiponia, “na ayon sa mga ulat ay brainchild at primaryang pinondohan noon ng Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”
The call for justice for the victims of the Davao bombings and “US imperialism” would be brought up again in the protest actions scheduled Sept. 19 to 21, according to Hiponia.