NO TO RENEWED US MILITARISM IN THE PHILIPPINES! ABROGATE VFA!
April 5, 2013
Contact Person: Elmer Aresgado #09333574675
On Opening Day of Balikatan:
Alliance Fears Philippines Getting Dragged into War in Korea
“Regular hosting of US military exercises by the Philippines and the permanent but rotational presence of US troops and facililities may drag us into a new Korean War.”
This was the statement of Elmer Aresgado, a spokesman of Youth for Nationalism and Democracy and Scrap VFA! Movement as their group gathered for a public protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo today.
According to Aresgado, “the US is massing up its forces in preparation for an imminent war and under the cover of a Balikatan, the US may be using the Philippines for this.”
For the first time, a “Freedom Banner Exercise” was conducted. In this exercise supervised by the Pacific Command of the US Armed Forces, in Subic Pacific Command of the US Armed Forces, USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011), and USNS Sacagawea (T-AK 2) transported 270 tactical vehicles and amphibious assault vehicles to Subic.
Also for the first time, this year’s exercises will use the MV-22B Osprey, an American multi-mission, military, tilt-rotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. And 20 US aircrafts will be used.
The Scrap VFA! Movement is calling on President Aquino to disengage from the Mutual Defense Treaty that has been the pretect for Philippine involvement in wars waged by the US.
“The Philippine government should act now or many of us will become mere collateral damage.” Aresgado concluded. ###
April 5, 2013
Contact Person: Atty. Virgie Lacsa-Suarez 09209190267 / Elmer Aresgado 09333574675
Increasing US Militarism Will Drag the Philippines into the Next Korean War
The alarming entry of a big number of US troops and military vessels in March this year means an increasing Philippine involvement in US’ wars. The Scrap VFA! Movement is demanding from the Aquino government to disengage from military agreements with the US that keep the Philippines committed to its wars or make our country a target of its enemies.
Even while US-contracted companies and three US salvage ships were extricating the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reefs, eight US vessels that included a nuclear-powered submarine, a guided missile destroyer and a guided missile frigate, arrived in ports in Subic, Manila and Cebu. These vessels alone had with them more than 5,000 US military personnel. Balikatan and Carat exercises have not yet started but not less than 18 US military vessels have visited the country since the start of the year.
The president, during his latest SONA said, “Hindi imposible para sa Pilipinas na tumindig at sabihing: ‘Ang Pilipinas ay sa Pilipino – at handa kaming ipagtanggol ito.’ Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinong kaytagal nang yumuyuko tuwing may makakasalubong na dayuhan – ang Pilipino, ngayon, taas-noo, tinitingala ng buong mundo.’ (It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to stand strong and say, “The Philippines is for Filipinos—and we are ready to defend it.” It is not impossible for the Filipino who for so long had kept his head bowed upon meeting a foreigner—it is not impossible for the Filipino, today, to stand with his head held high and bask in the admiration of the world.)
Sadly, this is not what we witness now. The government has become dependent on the US for the training of Philippine troops. It now appears dependent also on the US military for rescue operations during calamities and for doing foot bridges and classroom repairs. At least, this is the impression the people get when government officials profusely thank visiting US defense officials or when they attend so-called joint military exercises and community relations programs.
Clearly the Philippines is getting increasingly militarized courtesy of the US and its program of rebalancing to Asia and the Pacific. This is dangerous for the Philippines, for its environment and its people. Rather than providing security, it is more and more making the Philippines a fair target of attacks from the US’ many enemies, our territory becomes the US military’s garbage dump, and our women get increasingly commodified and abused during regular military rest and recreation.
Mr. President, make our agencies work and do not allow US troops to spread their “soft power”, doing token human relations work. Please end the military agreements that are detrimental to Philippine interests and uphold the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on freedom from nuclear weapons, foreign bases and troops. Save the Philippines from getting involved in another US’ war. ###
Stand Up for Sovereignty, Terminate the VFA
Eleven years of its existence should remove any doubt about the objectives of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA): that it has allowed the return and stay of foreign troops, and always opens the possibility of the return of foreign military bases, on Philippine territory. That it has also merely served the United States’ war designs, aimed at maintaining its domination in Asia and the world.
The word visiting has been a ploy to hide the real intent of the agreement, which is the eventual permanent military presence in the Philippines especially in Mindanao, including the establishment of support facilities for logistics and repairs. We’ve had enough of government’s justifications: that these American troops train Philippine soldiers; that these troops assist our own military especially against so-called terrorists; that their presence means additional military equipment and millions of dollars yearly for the Philippine military budget. According to a Fact Finding Mission conducted by Citizens Peace Watch, an independent US facility (under direct supervision and command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force has been established inside Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
Our government, for as long as it does not get out of the agreement, is guilty of conniving with the US in promoting civil war and rendering its own people hostages in the ongoing armed conflicts in our country.
Moreover, the government, as it remains committed to the VFA, is guilty of violating the Constitution, which underscores an independent foreign policy (Section 7) and no nuclear weapons policy (Section 8).
We have witnessed how Philippine laws couldn’t independently operate in cases of US soldiers, as in the case of the “Nicole” rape trial and countless other cases of homicide, damage to property and sexualassaults on women and children in local communities where US soldiers operate. Philippine authorities cannot even enter US camps within Philippine camps (?) without permission from US authorities; Philippine authorities cannot get the exact number of US troops in the country, much less get records containing vital background information on them; US troops can engage in other activities outside military exercises, such as excavations, soil and water testing, which they have been doing in many parts of Sulu, while keeping Philippine officials in the dark regarding all these.
Clearly, the VFA wantonly disregards and disrespects Philippine sovereignty. If the Philippine government is being remiss in its obligation to protect, defend and uphold national sovereignty, then the Filipino people are sovereignty’s rightful defenders.
Even as our commitment remains strong in pursuing “peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations,” as stated in the principles the Philippine Constitution, we believe in drawing inspiration from those who fiercely fought against the US military bases till victory in 1991. We will continue our advocacy and struggle for the termination of the VFA, work for the repeal of other unequal treaties and pursue our sovereign and democratic ideals with dignity and integrity.