Scrap VFA Movement
12 September 2011
Contact: Yuen Abana
Partido ng Manggagawa
Group dares P-Noy to bring up VFA termination issue in talk with Obama
Will President Benigno S. Aquino III bring up the issue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) when he meets President Barack Obama during his planned US visit this month?
The Scrap VFA Movement dares the President to. Yet the group is very pessimistic the President will not make a progressive stand on this matter considering his mother’s pro-US bases stand in 1991.
Unfortunately, what the Aquino administration has done so far, the group said, was to announce the conduct of a review to be headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa butharboring fears that its termination may be too radical a position. Unfortunately, neither results of the review have been made public nor information provided whether the review was done at all.
In the meantime, high-ranking U.S. political and military officials have come and gone, during which the VFA must have been taken up, yet the P-Noy Administration continues to be mum about the matter.
Thus, cynicism on P-Noy was the general sentiment among those who attended the public forum, “Partnership or Subservience? Reassessing Philippine-U.S. Military Relations”, held at the Pulungang Claro M. Recto Hall (Faculty Center Conference Hall) of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.
Twenty years after the US military bases were kicked out of the country on September 16, 1991, Filipino activists still object against what they described as a “continuing assault against Philippine sovereignty” with the presence of US military forces in the country hidden under the guise of joint military exercises allowed under the 1998 VFA.
Forum speakers and reactors pointed out that the VFA has gone beyond joint military exercises between the two countries, with several US troops and officers reported to having been permanently stationed in several areas in Mindanao and were practically invloved in Philippine military operations against suspected “terrorists”.
The government and the VFA also came under fire when Daniel Smith, a US soldier convicted for raping “Nicole” in 2005, was ‘transfered’ from Philippine prison to the US Embassy compound and was later allowed to sneak out of the country after the girl reportedly “dropped” the case.
Those controversies prompted the Senate as well as at the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry on the VFA paving a review on the process.
On 2009, the Senate approved the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chaired by Senator Miriam DefensorSantiago report on Senate Resolution No. 1356, calling for the termination of the VFA. Similar resolutions were filed in the current Congress by Senator Santiago in the Senate (Sen. Res. No. 3), and by Representative Lorenzo R. Tañada III in the House of Representatives (House Res. No. 17).