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!