July 26, 2012
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) condemns the ratification of the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement between Australia and the Philippines. The voting, which took place the day after the State of the Nation Address, was done with haste, thus preventing further public debate on the issue. The Philippines is now on its way to hosting Australian troops apart from the permanent and expanded presence of US troops in the country. This again is a continuing violation of our national sovereignty.
The claims that the Australian SOVFA will boost PH security against China is a patent lie. That is the same lie being peddled to justify permanent US military presence in the country. These so-called military exercises do not result in the modernization of our armed forces. Four decades of US military bases and more than a decade of the RP-US VFA have not contributed significantly to the modernization of the AFP, nor to the setting up of a minimum credible defense posture for the Philippines. Australia is also under no obligation to take the Philippines’ side in the dispute with China so it is untenable why this is even being invoked to justify the SOVFA ratification.
Australia is a junior partner of US imperialism in the region. The military exercises of Australia are in support of the US military rebalancing which aims to increase US troop presence and warships in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines will be used as a military hub for various military activities sponsored by the US and with the aid of its treaty partners Australia and even Japan.
We cannot take the revival and ratification of the SOVFA out of the context of US rebalancing and mobilization of its treaty allies in support of the US agenda. The China dispute has simply been the most convenient excuse to justify the violation of sovereignty by other countries. The truth however is that the US and its partners are seeking greater control and influence over the region, a move that it not necessarily consistent with our national interests.
The claims that the Australian SOVFA is an “improved” version of the US VFA, in relation to criminal jurisdiction, does not change fact that the agreement will violate our sovereignty.
We believe that an important step in modernizing our armed forces and developing our external defense is an independent foreign policy, one that is not dependent on imperial powers such as the US and its junior partners like Australia and Japan. Only by eliminating our dependence on these countries, and by realizing that our national interest is not the same as theirs, can we be a truly sovereign nation. ###