April 30, 2012
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today staged a protest action today at the start of top-level talks between the Philippine and United States government in Washington. The talks are expected to focus on defense cooperation between the two countries. The protest started at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay before proceeding to the US embassy in Manila. At the DAFT, Bayan placed a mock seal that called the department an adjunct of the US State Department.
The historic talks are taking place amid a dispute between China and the Philippines over a shoal west of the Philippines. The two countries have sent boats to the disputed area. Bayan has opposed Chinese incursions in Philippine territory but is more wary of US maneuvers in the region.
“Even before the dispute at Piñata Shoal, the US has been planning to increase its military presence in the Philippines in accordance with its new strategy of rebalancing its forces towards the Asia-Pacific. The latest PH-China dispute is being exploited by the US in further justifying its permanent military presence in our country,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The PH government has allowed itself to be hoodwinked by the promise of assistance from the US in the ongoing dispute. This is of course nothing but a sweet talking imperial power trying to take advantage of a situation for its own agenda. The US will milk this for all its worth, especially since it can set the stage for the setting up of virtual bases in the Philippines,” he added.
The US is seeking increased presence in the Philippines through more frequent military exercises, the rotational deployment of troops such as the 600 Special Forces in Mindanao, more frequent port calls by US warships and unhampered access to former US bases such as Subic.
Bayan has suspected that the US and Philippines may renew and expand their Mutual Logistics Support Agreement which is expected to expire on November 2012.
The Philippines meanwhile is clinging on to the promise of increased military aid through the Mutual Defense Treaty. However, Foreign Military Financing from the US to the Philippines has decreased over the past two years, presumably because of the current US fiscal crisis.
“The US immediately coming to the defense of the Philippines against China is a pipe dream. There is no automatic retaliation provision in the Mutual Defense Treaty. The US will have to go through its own constitutional processes before undertaking any military action. The US will not likely go to war with China over the Piñata Shoal, not when the US economy is so intertwined with China’s economy,”
“In the end, the US will be able to position its troops and warships while the Philippines get crumbs. This is proof of the one-sided character of our treaties with the US. The MDT and the VIA primarily serve US interests,” he added. ###