September 12, 2011 Reissued September 16, 2011
Contact Persons: Atty. Virginia Suarez-Pinlac
Ana Maria R. Nemenzo
Hail the Heroes of the Anti-Bases Movement!
Time to Assert National Sovereignty Once Again
With pride as a people, we commemorate a historic national event this coming September
16, the rejection of the US military bases twenty years ago.
It was the culmination of decades of struggle against the offenses and abuses committed by
US troops against our women and our people. Finding refuge in their military bases, these military offenders were shielded by extra-territoriality privileges beyond the jurisdiction of our criminal laws and justice system. More seriously, these bases enhanced US interference in our country’s economy and politics, and were used as staging points of US aggression in Vietnam.
The votes of the Magnificent 12 were a historic assertion of our people’s sovereignty and a declaration that our territory will never more be used to advance US economic and military interests in the Asian region.
While on the surface diplomatic relations “cooled off” between the Philippines and the
United States, the latter actively pushed behind the scene for an alternative scheme that would “bring back the boys” and that would turn out to have far more disastrous effects on our land and people. Sadly, we now confront the reality that US troops have come back and stayed under the Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1998.
Pursuing its war on terror in the Philippines, the US sent Special Forces organized under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) to Mindanao and Sulu that have since stayed. As many as six thousand US soldiers come for an exercise, holding as many as 37 exercises in a year. US ships dock in our ports as many as 100 times a year. They have facilities in major Philippine military camps and they use almost all their pre-1992 camps and facilities.
And the troubles we had during the bases are also back: abuse of women, bigger prostitution problem, assault on civilians, question of criminal jurisdiction over offenders, disposal of their waste, environmental destruction during exercises. In all these cases, the VFA allows greater protection for the offending US soldiers over the demands for justice for Filipino victims. The Scrap VFA Movement has been campaigning to terminate the Visiting Forces
Agreement. But the problem, clearly, is beyond the VFA. The United States has strategic interests in this part of the world. The region is rich in natural and mineral resources, offers a vast market for US products, and has important trade routes and new energy resources. To protect these interests, the US needs the Philippines to station forward troops.
Appealing to “long-standing friendship” based on “historical and cultural ties,” the US
capitalizes on the Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT) and all the other military agreements as basis for continuing military presence in our country. But we remember only too well how the MDT was
practically imposed on the Philippines soon after World War II, in return for rehabilitation funds for destruction and damages that American planes themselves caused, and for military assistance in quelling social unrest in the country at that time.
It is our responsibility as Filipinos to give primacy to our national interests. National
sovereignty must always prevail. We challenge our present Senators to do what the
Magnificent 12 did in 1991.
TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!
ABROGATE THE MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY AND ALL OTHER MILITARY
AGREEMENTS TO FREE OUR COUNTRY FROM ANY MILITARY INVOLVEMENT WITH
THE UNITED STATES IN ITS WARS AND MILITARY ADVENTURES!
FINALLY, WE ASK OUR GOVERNMENT TO PURSUE A TRUE AND
INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY IN LINE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE PHILIPPINE