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.
SPEECH: VFA: ATAKE SA SOBERANYA NG BANSA (Opening Remarks delivered by Virginia Lacsa Suarez during the Gathering of Defenders of Sovereignty)
VFA: ATAKE SA SOBERANYA NG BANSA
(Opening Remarks delivered by Virginia Lacsa Suarez during the Gathering of Defenders of Sovereignty)
MILITARY BASES AGREEMENT NOON; VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT NGAYON. Magkaibang tawag, ngunit pareho din ang ibig sabihin — ang pagbabase at pananatili ng tropang sundalong Amerikano; pareho din ang epekto—ang pag-yurak sa ating kasarinlan; atake sa ating soberanya
Ano nga ba ang soberanya?.Ito ang ating pagka-“kanya” bilang isang bansa – kasama nito ang pagiging malaya at makapangyayari sa sarili nating bansa. Usapin ito ng pakikinabang ng mamamayang Pilipino sa yaman ng bansa; pagkakaroon ng kontrol at kapangyarihan sa sariling lupain pati ang kakayahang ipatupad ang ating batas sa loob mismo ng ating bansa. Kung hindi natin maipatupad ang ating batas dito mismo sa Pilipinas — saan pa natin ito maipapatupad?.
Ito ang malaking usaping nakasalang sa VFA! Sa VFA naka-kompromiso ang dignidad natin bilang mamamayang Pilipino. Kayat anumang atake sa soberanya ng ating bansa — ang lahat ay may tungkuling magsalita, kumilos, lumaban at magtanggol.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of VFA – the SCRAP VFA Movement believes and maintains that it is unconstitutional.
The VFA carries with it the same premises, if not worse, than that of the Bases Treaty that the Filipino people have rejected in 1991. Ito ay malinaw na pagbawi sa tagumpay na nakamit natin noong 1991.
The very nature of VFA means access without restraint to resources, manpower and logistical requirements aside from a free pass to any corner not just of Mindanao, but of the country with no questions asked. VFA is even worse than Military Bases Treaty when we had Man Operating Base in a very specific & limited area.
The VFA now practically designates the whole Philippine archipelago as one entire US military base with free access to ports nationwide for an unlimited amount of time, giving US military forces special privileges by granting exemptions from visa and passport regulations, driving permits and licenses, duties, taxes and charges; directly undermining our own people’s security by exposing them to live-fire exercises, sexual exploitation and other crimes committed.
With the VFA, US troops are virtually shielded from culpability by these security agreements that treat US soldiers as “supra-citizens’ over and above the national laws and Constitutions of the aggrieved nation.
The case of US servicemen’s involvement in cases of rape such as the case of “Nicole” and the innocent lives lost in the ongoing war in Mindanao, where US soldiers take active part, as in the case of the Maimbung massacre, are only some of the crimes committed and dismissed as mere ‘collateral damage’ of the humongous US war machine.
The presence of US troops in the country as well as civilian intelligence operatives gives way to US intervention into the internal affairs of the country which undermines national sovereignty as well as uses Philippine territory for US military designs of global hegemony.
SCRAP VFA MOVEMEMENT believes that US troops’ presence in the country is along the US objective of maintaining its hegemony, serving as a deterrent to China, which it considers as a threat. The paranoia that as China consequently becomes more influential over them, the US could be economically and militarily shut out from what it has always considered as an “American lake” – the Asia-Pacific region. The US military might is necessary to prevent the rise of a rival.
Even the War in Mindanao is basically a war to ensure US continuing rape and plunder of the island’s remaining resource base as well as ensuring that Mindanao plays its role to the fullest in maintaining US world hegemony in this part of the world.
US troops presence and movement i.e. involvement in combat operations also serve the long term objective of quelling homegrown people’s resistance and mass movements. Areas like Mindanao, Bicol and Central Luzon have a long history of people’s resistance against colonialism and imperialism.
Let us always remember, SOVEREIGNTY RESIDES in the people! Not in the government – certainly not in any foreign troops! Our integrity as people and nation lies on whether or not we have sovereignty
Indeed, we have nothing to lose in terminating the VFA and the Mutual Defense Treaty. On the contrary, we have our SOVEREIGNTY and the respect of the community of nations to gain!
And as we gather here tonight, let us learn from the wisdom of our veteran defenders of sovereignty – combine this with the vigor, determination and passion of youth — I am certain that sovereignty is here to reside in us!
April 29, 2011
Contact Person: Ana Maria Nemenzo #09189038687
Chester Amparo #09234208517
Scrap VFA! Movement Insists: More US Presence Not Welcome
“Malacañang should not busy itself in denying use of Subic again as a US miltary base was discussed recently by visiting US senators. Rather, it should make an unequivocal stand for national sovereignty.”
This was the statement of Ana Maria Nemenzo of the Scrap VFA!Movement this morning in reaction to the denials issued by both the US Embassy press attaché Rebecca Thompson and Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda on Thursday regarding the reported unofficial agenda during the recent visit of US Senators Thad Cochran and Daniel Inouye in Manila and in Subic and Clark.
“We are not expecting admission. They have kept silent about the result of the review of the VFA after the president announced the existence of the review committee in October,” Nemenzo explained.
The Scrap VFA Movement, an alliance formed after the inequities and other flaws of the
VFA became very evident in the Subic Rape Case, have been keeping a close watch of the developments regarding US troops operations in the Philippines. It vows to oppose any plan or move that allows the US to operate the old bases like before as it also opposes use of te whole territory as “one big base under the VFA.”
“It’s now 20 years after the abrogation of the Military Bases Agreement and twelve years after the ratification of the VFA. It is high time the president clearly declares that it stands by the provision of the Constitution of 1987 regarding the bases and by the decision of the Senate in September 16, 1991 closing the bases and scraps the VFA immediately.” Nemenzo concluded.
Press Release May 23, 2011 Virginia Contact Person: Ana Maria R. Nemenzo#09189038687 and Atty. Virginia Suarez-Pinlac##09209190267
VFA Working Well for the US Only—Scrap VFA! Movement
“Indeed, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has been working very well—that is, for US interests.”
This was the reaction of the Scrap VFA! Movement yesterday to the statement of the US Embassy in Manila on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) last May 20.
According to the statement of the anti-VFA alliance, it is not surprising that the US government deems the VFA needed no amendment. But it asserts that “ 12 years after the Senate ratified this agreement on May 27, 1999, it has done more harm than good to Philippine interests and thus, should be terminated no less.”
The anti-VFA alliance has even upped its ante, now demanding that the Mutual Defense Treaty be abrogated also. The MDT, according to the statement “has been dragging the Philippines for decades into US’ wars of aggression and supporting US’ drive for hegemony”.
The VFA, according to a Supreme Court decision on January 12, 2009,”which is the instrument agreed upon to provide for the joint RP-US military exercises is simply an implementing agreement to the main RP-US Military Defense Treaty.”
The Scrap VFA! Movement’s statement censured both the Philippine and American government for using the Spratly and the Abu Sayyaf issues to drum-up support for the VFA and MDT. According to the statement, the Philippine government should handle these problems “employing methods that are allowed by the Constitution, by the full operation of its laws, along the highest standards of diplomacy, and particularly regarding the Abu Sayyaf, by seriously addressing the roots of discontent”.
It likewise criticized the Philippine president for his “distasteful” visit on the USS Carl Vinson and for allowing himself to be held spellbound in his tour of that nuclear-powered warship. The statement emphasized that PNoy is the son of the president in whose term the 1987 Constitution, which has a clear-cut provision against nuclear arms, was formulated and ratified.
As a fitting way to remember the ratification of the VFA, the Scrap VFA! Movement is holding a forum this coming May 27, 1:00 pm at Rembrandt Hotel. Attendance is by invitation.