The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today slammed the recently concluded “two-plus-two” meeting between the Philippines and United States, saying this merely reinforced the dependence of the Philippines on its former colonizer but will not amount to much in terms of helping the Philippines assert its claims over disputed territories in the region.
“The Philippines will again be waiting for more second-hand military equipment being thrown its way by the US government. The PH government will again pin its hopes of armed forces modernization on US hand-me-downs. But the reality is that all these do not really help in strengthening Philippine sovereignty nor in asserting our claims over disputed territories,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The only concrete outcome of the talks is a second Vietnam-era ship, a 1967 Hamilton class cutter, which will be transferred to the Philippines this year allegedly to modernize our armed forces. This is the kind of mendicant foreign policy which has prevented our country to develop its own credible defense posture, because it is so dependent on US military aid,” Reyes said
The group sensed that the US government was downplaying the impact of the meeting vis-à-vis US relations with China. “The US obviously did not categorically take the side of the Philippines over China. The US was very careful. It is an indication that the Mutual Defense Treaty is not a framework where we can always expect automatic US support for our territorial claims. Neither can we expect automatic US retaliation against China. The MDT only gives the illusion of US support so that the US can get more from the Philippines,” Reyes said.
MLSA likely extended
Bayan noted that the US will get more from its agreements with the Philippines as it reaffirmed the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Vesting Forces Agreement. Bayan also noted that the joint statement between the two governments indicated that the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement will likely be extended since this was mentioned as among the major agreements between the two governments. The MLSA allows US forces to be serviced by the Philippines through logistical support of various kinds.
“The US will enhance is maritime surveillance program in the region under the guise of maintaining freedom of navigation. The US will maintain its 600 Special Forces in Mindanao even without a basing treaty. These troops have been in the country for the last 10 years and are believed to be engaged in combat roles. The US will also conduct more high-impact military exercises not limited to maritime exercises,” Reyes said.
According to news reports, a subsidiary of the U.S. defense contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries will be working with Hanjin Heavy Industries, which maintains a large shipbuilding and repair facility at the former base at Subic Bay. This is believed to pay the way for large-scale servicing of U.S. military ships in Subic Bay for the first time in 20 years. Such servicing of US ships is allowed under the MLSA.
“The US certainly got more out of this meeting than the Philippines. It’s part of the bigger US agenda in the Pacific. On the same day, US President Obama met with Japan PM Noda on the transfer of US troops from Okinawa to other areas in the region such as Guam, Hawaii and Australia. The Philippines has previously been reported to be another country that may host the rotational troops that will be displaced from Okinawa.
Read US-PH joint statement here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/04/188977.htm