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New Zealand Must Not Sell Skyhawks To Philippines

Reports that the Government is trying to sell Royal New Zealand Air Force Skyhawks to the Philippines shows that it has learned nothing from the decades of New Zealand's silent complicity with the butchers of East Timor, the genocidal Indonesian military. The stated reason for the possible purchase is to assist the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands. In fact, the only Chinese who have trembled at the might of the Philippines military have been some errant fishermen.

No, if bought, these planes will be pressed into service doing what the Filipino (and Indonesian) military does best - repressing and terrorising its own people. They will be used against Muslim separatists on the southern island of Mindanao, where aerial and artillery bombardments regularly produce tens of thousands of civilian refugees (most recently, in 1998). They will also used in the 30 year old war against the Communist New Peoples Army, right throughout the archipelago. Britain sold Indonesia warplanes - they weren't used for external defence, but to bomb and strafe East Timor.

The Philippines military is the same huge and brutal monster as its Indonesian counterpart. It is responsible for countless human rights atrocities - massacres, individual murders, torture, disappearances, destruction of property, etc, etc. It also uses the same sort of militias that have wreaked such havoc in East Timor - paramilitary death squads have been a dreaded feature of Philippines rural life for decades. The only difference is that the Western media is no longer paying any attention to the Philippines, naively regarding it as a democracy. What happened under Marcos continued unabated under Presidents Aquino and Ramos, and continues today under President Estrada (who was on hand for this week's demonstration of the Skyhawks' capabilities). No wonder the Indonesian military wants the UN peacekeeping force to include Filipino units - they would feel right at home with their Indonesian brothers. They speak the same language - repression and terrorising of defenceless civilians.

New Zealand is just starting to extricate itself from the foreign policy quagmire it created for itself with Indonesia. Let's not have to reinvent the wheel all over again with the Philippines.

NO SKYHAWK SALES! NO MILITARY TIES WITH THE PHILIPPINES!

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