April 28, 2017
Reference: Teddy Casiño, BAYAN spokesperson
On the third year anniversary of the US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) took to the streets to demand its termination lest the Philippines and neighboring ASEAN countries be dragged into US President Donald Trump’s crazy war-mongering. The EDCA was negotiated in secret by the Aquino and Obama administrations and was signed in 2014 during Obama’s state visit to the Philippines.
Bayan called on leaders attending the 30th ASEAN Summit to demand the de-escalation and demilitarization of the South China Sea disputes and the withdrawal of both US and Chinese troops, vessels and facilities in the area. ASEAN member states and China can and should settle their differences without US intervention and without resorting to force, intimidation and military action against each other.
Bayan believes increased US military presence in the region can only make matters worse for the Philippines and ASEAN because Trump is on the warpath. He has recently ordered a 10% hike in the US military budget, promising to rebuild the US Armed Forces. Last March, the US dropped more bombs in Yemen in a week than an entire year under former Pres. Obama. This month, he ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles fired into Syria and dropped the US’ most powerful non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan.
Closer to home, Trump has ordered the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, to the consternation not only of North Korea but of Russia and China as well. Trump appears keen on going to war with North Korea. If war does break out, the US will most likely use the Philippines as a launching pad for its military actions in the Korean Peninsula like what happened in the 1950s. EDCA allows the US to preposition troops, arms and war materiel in, and launch military actions from, the Philippines.
In the South China Sea, a virtual arms race now exists between the US and China. Unfortunately, EDCA and related agreements like the MDT, Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Logistics and Support Arrangement (MLSA) make the Philippines a key partner of the US in expanding its military might in the region. These agreements serve as an albatross on the country’s efforts to reduce tensions in the region. China’s own warmongers have used EDCA as an additional pretext for building military facilities in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.
By terminating EDCA and similar agreements, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte can remove the Philippines from the clutches of Trump’s military offensive. It will also show that the Philippines is adopting a truly independent foreign policy, giving our country the moral high ground to lead in efforts to peacefully settle disputes among ASEAN countries as well as with neighboring China.
Bayan vows to lead protest during the US President Trump’s planned visit to the Philippines in November. #