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.