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Groups condemn ‘evil’ US anti-vax campaign among Filipinos

Various groups condemned covert disinformation operations conducted by the United States (US) military in the Philippines during the Covid-19 pandemic as reported by Reuters.

In separate statements, Citizens’ Urgent Response to End Covid-19 (CURE Covid), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1nas) said it was “malevolent” of the US to conduct such operations among Filipinos at the height of the pandemic.

The groups were reacting to a June 14 Reuters investigative report about a US interventionist campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines.

“This malevolent campaign was designed to undermine confidence in vaccines produced by China and disrupt efforts to control the pandemic, and it represents a significant threat to global public health and trust,” CURE Covid said.

“[It] is clearly unethical and outrageous as it came during a global health crisis. The psy-ops intervention is totally unacceptable as it sought to influence domestic policy on vaccines during a health crisis,” Bayan said.

“How absolutely diabolical is US imperialism to engage in such activities at the height of a global health crisis, targeting Filipinos when they were most vulnerable,” P1NAS spokesperson Antonio Tinio said.

The Reuters report said the clandestine program amid the COVID crisis wanted to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation as payback for Beijing’s efforts to blame Washington for the pandemic.

The gambit targeted the Filipino public through at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former U.S. military officials familiar with the Philippines operation.

Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centered on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for China is the virus.

Several X posts also accused former President Rodrigo Duterte as begging China for Sinovac campaigns in exchange for Philippine islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Indefensible

The Reuters report quoted Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine infectious disease specialist Daniel Lucey: “I don’t think it’s defensible. I’m extremely dismayed, disappointed and disillusioned to hear that the U.S. government would do that.”

The report added that when individuals develop skepticism toward a single vaccine, those doubts often lead to uncertainty about other inoculations.

“It should have been in our interest to get as much vaccine in people’s arms as possible,” said Greg Treverton, former chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, which coordinates the analysis and strategy of Washington’s many spy agencies.

“What the Pentagon did, Treverton said, ‘crosses a line,’” Treverton added.

Reuters said both camps of President Joseph Biden and former president Donald Trump refused to reply to questions.

Vulnerable Philippines

CURE Covid said the US military disinformation campaign impacted the Philippines, “considering that our country has one of the world’s worst excess deaths during the pandemic (relative to the population) – 300,000 in 2021 according to some reports.”

“Indeed, almost every Filipino family knew someone who died of COVID-19,” the group said.

It added it is also possible that thousands of Filipinos are suffering from the debilitating impact of long COVID-19, quoting a study saying “it occurs in at least 10% of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections.”

The US military anti-vax campaign surely contributed to initially slower and lower vaccination rates in the Philippines, which in turn left millions of Filipinos vulnerable to infection, CURE Covid said.

Bayan said the revelation clearly shows the US is the main purveyor of disinformation despite repeated claims of countering disinformation.

“The US does not care for human life and only cares about how it can gain the upper hand over its rivals. It is quite disgusting to learn of the Reuters report, as lives may have been lost due to the US disinformation drive,” the group said.

“This exposes the true nature of the so-called ironclad commitments and special relationship between the US and the Philippines. To the US imperialists, Filipinos are merely expendable pawns in their desperate bid to maintain their status as the sole superpower,” P1NAS meanwhile said.

The group called on Malacañang to summon the US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson to shed light on the revelation and both houses of Congress to investigate the matter.

“We demand that Malacañang summon the US Ambassador to explain this outrageous conduct and hold the US accountable for endangering Filipino lives with its disinformation campaign,” P1nas said.

“We challenge the Marcos Jr. administration to show that it is not an utter vassal of the US,” Tinio declared,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists protest RP-US military exercises

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other groups, together with Central Luzon organizations, held protest actions against the 34th Balikatan exercises in Clark and Basa air bases last May 8.

The protesters said it is a violation of Philippine sovereignty that foreign military forces continue to exercise power in the country through agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

They also demanded that the US military clean up toxic wastes left in their former military bases in Central Luzon.

US intervention in Marawi violates Philippine sovereignty–CPP

THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced American military presence and “armed interference” in the ongoing operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi City against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

As the battle in Marawi enters its 21st day and as the country commemorates the 119th anniversary of the declaration of independence from Spanish colonialism, the CPP said Philippine independence remains false with American military intervention. Read more

Duterte points at Lorenzana for US presence in Marawi

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said it was the Defense department that decided to seek help from the United States armed forces in the ongoing battle for Marawi City.

In a press briefing during a visit to wounded soldiers in Cagayan de Oro City today, Duterte said he did not know the US military was already in Marawi helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines fight the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups.

“I am not aware of that until they arrived. When I declared martial law, I gave the power to the defense department,” the President said as he gestured at National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana standing beside him. Read more