April 13, 2014
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that the imminent signing of the so-called Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation will be a gross violation of Philippine sovereignty and the Constitution. The group said that it will strongly protest the signing of the military pact and will take the fight in the streets and in the courts.
“The oft repeated rationale is that we need this agreement with the US to protect ourselves from Chinese incursions. So what Aquino is basically saying is, to protect Filipinos from the neighborhood bully, we’re inviting a rapist inside our house to do as he pleases. That is the implication of this agreement. We’re being told we’re getting a good deal but in fact we’re getting the short end of the stick,” said Bayan secretary genera Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Bayan said that the rape of PH sovereignty by US forces has been historically proven, “from the time of the Fil-Am War, the establishment of US bases, the signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the numerous violations of PH laws by US troops, and the refusal of the US government to pay for environmental damage caused by US troops in Clark, Subic and Tubbataha reef.”
The group said that the US cannot be trusted to respect PH sovereignty as US forces always consider themselves above the laws of the host countries. “Everywhere in the world where US troops are stationed, whether as an occupation force, or through foreign bases or military exercises, the problems are the same,” Reyes said.
“Stand up to China, we must. But let’s not delude ourselves that the US is our protector. The US is only after its own agenda,” he added.
The group is also not buying the provision in the agreement that sates the US will “not establish a permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines
“The agreement makes the claim that there will not be permanent US military presence in the country. That is a worthless assurance because US troops have already been permanently stationed in Mindanao since 2002, and without any clear exit plan. US forces say that they can only use PH facilities upon the invitation of the PH government. That too is laughable since US forces are regularly going in and out of the country every month via port calls and military exercises,” Reyes said.
“There is also no empirical evidence to support the assertion that giving US forces access to our facilities will modernize our AFP. During the time of the US bases, and even under the VFA, the same argument was used yet our AFP still remained backward. There is nothing to support the claim that a military agreement will develop the country’s minimum credible defense posture,” he added.
Bayan will lead a week-long protest in time for the visit of US President Barack Obama. It has linked up with anti-bases activists in the United States, Japan and South Korea.
“The US pivot to Asia involves US allies shouldering the cost of hosting US forces. The US fiscal crisis is making it increasingly difficult for the US to sustain its self-appointed role of global policeman. It is why countries like Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Australia are being asked to share the burden by providing bases and access to bases,” Reyes said. ###