“Di na Natuto”- We haven’t learned

This song title best describes the nation’s leaders who are pushing for the ratification of another Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA), that with Australia.

Only a few years ago the controversial Subic Rape Case showed the nation how the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) saved a convicted US soldier from serving term in Philippine jail.  Now, the president and some senators are courting disaster by allowing another agreement that explicitly exempts foreign soldiers from accountability to our domestic laws.

SOVFA that guarantees protection for Australian troops, it can greatly increase Australian military deployment to the Philippines.  It can hold more joint military exercises to enhance “interoperability” to muster effective collaborative force against US’ enemies it calls “non-traditional threats”.

The VFA did not make the AFP a force that can truly defend the country’s territorial integrity.  But here is the Department of Defense extolling SOVFA’s benefits for the AFP.

The VFA and the MLSA were instrumental in making US troops presence permanent and not merely visiting.  Now, Senator Loren Legarda says the SOVFA with Australia has safeguards.

Shall we allow ourselves to be fooled yet again?

The timing of the ratification is instructive.  The US is now reasserting its dominance in the region, its defined frontier for recovery and growth, part of this is to contain China, a rising power. Re-balancing its troops in the Asia Pacific region, including 2,500 troops to Darwin, Australia is part of this tact.

Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) believes that Australia is working for this agreement not for the mutual benefit of the two contracting parties but primarily to project its power in the Asia Pacific, playing a supporting role to the US.

In the past, Australia has always relied on another power to augment its defense capabilities. Phil-Aus SOVFA is one of the instruments to reinforce US’ Pacific wall against China.

The Philippines and our Senate should not fall for an old ploy, and should learn its lessons well. By taking sides, the danger of being reduced to collateral damage between two colliding powers becomes a certainty. ####

*KPD is the mother organization of YND (Youth for Nationalism and Democracy).

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