US Military Advisors Sent
To Phillipines Could Trigger
'A New Vietnam'

The News - Pakistan

MANILA, (AFP) - US President George W. Bush's despatch of military advisers to the Philippines could lead to a "new Vietnam" and hasten President Gloria Arroyo's downfall, communist guerrilla leaders warned Sunday.

The insurgent National Democratic Front (NDF) urged the American public, "just as during the Vietnam War", to "stand up and defy this US imperialist intervention against the Filipino people."

The Pentagon is sending at least 650 Special Forces troops and support personnel to the southern Philippines over the next six months to advise Filipino troops in a campaign to crush the Abu Sayyaf Muslim guerrilla group.

Both governments said the US help is within the framework of the global campaign against terrorism.

The Abu Sayyaf, they said, has links with the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden, the main suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

But NDF leader Luis Jalandoni charged that the operations would not be limited to the south because the Americans "are also setting up quarters in Laur", a northern town that is host to the Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division.

Leftwing groups have charged that the US advisers would eventually turn their help into a campaign against the New People's Army (NPA), a 12,000-member Maoist guerrilla group that has been included in an international "terrorist blacklist" circulated by Washington.

"By sending 650 US combat troops, including 160 Green Berets and Navy Seals, with the approval of the puppet (Arroyo) regime, into a battle zone in southern Philippines, US imperialism is deliberately setting up a tripwire to a new Vietnam," Jalandoni said.

"The broadest united front of patriotic and progressive forces in the Philippines and in the international community must be mobilized to vigorously oppose and resist" the US military presence, he added.

Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the NDF and NPA's mother organization the Communist Party of the Philippines, warned that with the US military deployments, Arroyo's "relatively peaceful removal from power is probable within one year".

Arroyo has insisted the US deployments are covered by a 1951 mutual defense treaty with Washington. Her aides say the majority of Filipinos back the US presence to help her crush the Abu Sayyaf.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

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