The Stop the War! Coalition (StW!C) laments the Philippine Senate’s ratification of the Philippines-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) last July 24, 2012. As democratic organizations and individuals peacefully united under a broad alliance opposed to all imperialist wars of aggression, we are outraged at votes of seventeen senators for increased militarism in the Philippines.
The SOVFA is a bilateral military agreement that will govern the conduct and treatment of Australian troops doing military exercises and other unspecified activities in the Philippines and vice versa. Signed in Canberra in May 2007, the SOVFA’s provisions are quite similar to the 1999 PH-US VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). This is not surprising as imperialist or powerful capitalist countries seek agreements of this sort mainly for the protection of their troops assigned in territories outside of their own—protection from the exercise of host countries’ sovereignty especially on issues involving criminal jurisdiction.
Australia has been the US’ most trusted ally in the Pacific since the 1950’s. It has consistently supported the US in its wars of aggression and under the present rebalancing scheme of the US, it has pledged its all-out support. While it has its own business interests in the Philippines, particularly in mining, which its military surely aims to protect, its aggressive move for increased military “cooperation” with the Philippines is immediately connected to its role vis a vis the US’ Asia-Pacific pivot. The SOVFA, therefore, is an instrument that reinforces US’ strategic plans in the Philippines and in the whole Asia.
America’s primary geo-strategic thrust in Asia today is the containment of a fast-rising China which it aims to weaken through an encirclement of the latter’s territorial breadth from military access points all across Asia: Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan)-West Asia (Afghanistan)-South Asia (Pakistan)-Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Philippines)-Northeast Asia (Japan and South Korea). China has long emerged as a direct competitor to the US and its imperialist economic interests in Asia and their cold war even goes beyond the region itself. Washington’s aim at containing Beijing’s expansionist drive has been widely and explicitly stated as a key American objective in its intensifying militarist thrust in Asia.
The Senate vote showed the Philippine elite’s unflinching loyalty to the US while further subjugating our country’s interests to those of the US and key US allies like Australia. It supports US’ design to recover from the crisis and maintain dominance by using its strength, its military might.
It is not in the interest of peace. The SOVFA will further militarize the country and expose the people to more war-related violence and abuse. This brings us the country closer to war.
We call on peace-loving people to never stop fighting for the repeal of this instrument of aggression and other similar agreements.###