June 8, 2012
Protests will coincide with the visit of Philippine president Benigno Aquino III to the United States, according to umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. In Manila, Bayan will lead a march to the US embassy while Bayan-USA will lead protests that are expected to take place in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco.
“Aquino’s visit to the United States is the culmination of months of meetings, negotiations and discussions for increasing US troop presence in the country and reaffirming unequal economic and politico-military relations. Aquino and US President Barrack Obama are expected to once again reaffirm PH-US special ties which are nothing more than neo-colonial relations,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Bayan chapters in the US have lined up a series of protest actions during Aquino’s visit. On June 8 (Saturday morning in Manila), Bayan-USA will stage a mass action in Washington D.C. as Aquino and Obama hold their dialog. Activities have been set as well on June 9-10, to also mark the 114th anniversary of the June 12 Philippine Independence Day.
“In a time when the Philippines should be asserting its sovereignty and charting an independent foreign policy, Aquino is groveling to the US for economic and military aid in exchange for the transformation of the entire country into a US military outpost in Southeast Asia. The US meanwhile has made a mockery of Philippine sovereignty as its supposed ‘visiting troops’ have become permanent fixtures in the country,” he added.
A flurry of activities has been held soon after the US announced in January 3, 2012 that it was rebalancing its troops towards Asia. Prior to the meeting between Aquino and Obama, Manila and Washington held a PH-US Strategic Dialogue, a ministerial meeting between the PH Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense and the US State Department and Department of Defense, as well as a quick visit by the chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
The US has announced plans for shifting 60% of its warships to Asia, presumably to encircle a potential rival, China.
“There have been a lot of meetings the past months to ensure that US troops will be rebalanced from other regions towards Asia. The Philippines has been eyed for its strategic value for US hegemonic interests in the region. They are bringing back more US troops and more warships. It’s as if the bases are back in the country. We are considered ‘important’ to the US because we allow our country to be used to project US military power in the region. We are the doormat for US troops in Southeast Asia, a convenient footstool for the US encirclement of China. Apparently, the Philippine president has no qualms in the fact that foreign troops are trampling on our sovereignty. ,” Reyes said.
“Aquino is expected to trumpet his administration’s alleged gains in good governance, particularly in the removal of the Supreme Court Chief Justice. He will use this to beg for more economic and military aid from the US. The US government will in turn require the Philippines to be more subservient to US dictates,” he added.
It has been announced that the Philippines may get as much as $30 million in military aid this year, almost triple what it got last year. Bayan decried as hypocritical Aquino’s complaint about China’s incursions in Philippine territory while welcoming and allowing the permanent presence of the US military in various parts of the country.
“There is nothing new Aquino’s foreign policy. He has carried on the tradition of subservience exhibited by all past presidents. He foolishly believes that Philippine and US interests are one and the same and that by hanging on to the coattails of the US, we will develop as a nation. He wrongly thinks the US will help us against China, despite the fact that the US has not taken sides in the territorial dispute and is not likely to engage China in a confrontation because of huge US economic interests in China,” Reyes said.
“The times call for the Philippines to exercise its sovereignty and to deal with disputes with other nations on its own terms, and with its national interests in mind. By aligning our interests with the US versus China, we are allowing our country to be used and abused by an imperial power whose only interests are profits and hegemony,” he added.
Bayan also urged vigilance on moves by the Philippine government to join the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement which would be utilized as another free trade bloc outside the APEC. Aquino has expressed intent to join the trading bloc but Bayan warned that this could further undermine the Philippine economy. #