SPEECH: VFA: ATAKE SA SOBERANYA NG BANSA (Opening Remarks delivered by Virginia Lacsa Suarez during the Gathering of Defenders of Sovereignty)

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Atty. Virginia Lacsa-Suarez
KAISA KA NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON

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!

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Scrap VFA! Movement Insists: More US Presence Not Welcome

Press Release

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.

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VFA Working Well for the US Only—Scrap VFA! Movement

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Terminate the One-sided VFA and the Archaic MDT

Press Statement

May 23, 2011

Contact Persons: Ana Maria R. Nemenzo #09189038687 / Atty. Virginia Suarez-Pinlac #09209190267

 

Terminate the One-sided VFA and the Archaic MDT

 

Indeed, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has been working very well—that is, for US interests. And not surprisingly, for the US government, as Kristie Kenny, the former US Ambassador to the Philippines said, the VFA needed no amendment.

 

The Scrap VFA! Movement, however, maintains 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.

 

It likewise demands that the Mutual Defense Treaty, a single page agreement that has been dragging the Philippines for decades  into US’ wars of aggression and supporting US’ drive for hegemony should be abrogated.

 

The US and Philippine governments’ war machinery should stop using the Spratly issue and the threat from the Abu Sayyaf to drum-up support for the VFA and the MDT.  These are problems that the Philippine government should handle 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.

 

 This is not to say that the Philippines should not enter into military agreements with other countries.  But the Scrap VFA! Movement believes that the Philippines should ensure that in all the military agreements it commits the country into, it upholds national sovereignty and the country’s neutrality.

 

It is highly distasteful for the president, to allow himself to be a special guest on the USS Carl Vinson and to be held spellbound in his tour of that nuclear-powered warship.  He is after all, the son of the president in whose term the 1987 Constitution, which has a clear-cut provision against nuclear arms, was formulated and ratified.  His visit amid his silence on the status or result of the review of the VFA, which was followed by the US Embassy’s statement, betrayed his obeisance to US’ designs.

 

The Scrap VFA! Movement renews its call for the government to seriously consider the merits of the Joint Congressional Resolutions to terminate the VFA.   And to remove any basis for its stay, abrogate the Military Defense Treaty. ###

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Group dares P-Noy to bring up VFA termination issue in talk with Obama

PRESS RELEASE
Scrap VFA Movement
12 September 2011
 
Contact: Yuen Abana
Partido ng Manggagawa
09162811934
 
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). 
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Hail the Heroes of the Anti-Bases Movement! Time to Assert National Sovereignty Once Again

Press Statement
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
CONSTITUTION!

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STATEMENT: Subic and Clark: Once Again a Staging Point of US Aggression in Asia

Press Statement

June 8, 2012

Contact Persons:  Atty.Virginia Suarez-Pinlac  – #+639209190267

                             Ana Maria R. Nemenzo #+ 63918 9038687

                             Elmer Arisgado #+639224954776

 

Subic and Clark: Once Again a Staging Point

of US Aggression in Asia

 

            The recent announcement that US troops and warships can once again use their former naval and air facilities in Subic and Clark is another clear admission that as  the United States seeks to reassert dominance in Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines is also back at being a launching pad of US aggression in the region.

 

            It is no surprise because anti-VFA activists and organizations like the Scrap VFA! Movement have long been warning the government that the VFA virtually allowed the US military to use the whole Philippine territory as its base not only for its trainings but also for actual wars.  If they use parts of the facilities that hardly have modern military facilities, they would surely have more need for Subic and Clark that have US-installed facilities of strategic importance that remain untouched by Philippine security forces and visibly reserved for US’s use.

 

            Actually, it is not only now that US troops and crafts will be using these facilities.   They had been using Subic and Clark for trainings even before the VFA was in force and are still using these to date.  They dock their warship in Subic, they load or unload their troops and allow their soldiers’ ‘R and R’.  They use Clark and the very proximate Crow Valley Bombing and Gunnery Range for so many activities of their military exercises.

 

            Thus, the announcement aimed to prepare the people psychologically.  It tells us to brace for increased military presence and activity in these facilities and possibly, for another direct armed engagement of the US in Asia.

 

            While some “enterprising” people may now be rejoicing over new business prospects in the likely rebirth of base-like communities, the Scrap VFA! Movement appeals to the Aquino government to cut this lopsided military relationship with the US, free the country from getting increasingly involved in US’s wars, from becoming a magnet once more of attacks from US’s enemies and from the social problems like enlivened prostitution and increased violence against women that come with increased US military presence.  

 

            The Scrap VFA!Movement reminds the Aquino presidency to strictly adhere to the provision of Section Seven of the  Declaration of Principles and State Policies of the Philippine Constitution: The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.

 

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