In the last three months five UH-1 helicopters supplied by the United States to the Philippines air force have crashed, with the two most recent accidents taking the lives of 11 officers. This has led some Filipino commentators, politicians and senior military officers to charge the United States with dumping inferior equipment on its ally. Adding to a growing climate of anti-Americanism, some Filipinos even accuse the United States of deliberately undercutting their country's anti-insurgency program so that it will have an excuse to step in and take over.
The U.S. military aid program to the Philippines in the post-Ferdinand Marcos era has in fact been something less than a model of generosity or efficiency. Congress, while cheering the restoration of democracy in the Philippines, has proven curiously uneager to fund equipment transfers to the run-down armed forces that are supposed to protect that democracy. In some cases the military aid sent has been absurdly inappropriate, e.g., cold-weather gear for use in a tropical country. President Corazon Aquino's recent claims that the United States has reneged on promised military help have added fuel to the fires of anti-Americanism.
Some complaints by Filipinos are understandable. At the same time it's increasingly clear that blaming the United States for the Philippines' problems in confronting its Communist-led insurgency has become an easy substitute for honestly acknowledging the failures of the country's leaders to deal on their own with continuing political, military and economic failures. There are even now too few signs to indicate that serious steps are under way to rectify these failures. There are ample signs, though, that the insurgency will likely grow in strength. That in turn could provide further temptations for anti-American blame laying.