The alarming entry of a big number of US troops and military vessels in March this year means an increasing Philippine involvement in US’ wars. The Scrap VFA! Movement is demanding from the Aquino government to disengage from military agreements with the US that keep the Philippines committed to its wars or make our country a target of its enemies.
Even while US-contracted companies and three US salvage ships were extricating the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reefs, eight US vessels that included a nuclear-powered submarine, a guided missile destroyer and a guided missile frigate, arrived in ports in Subic, Manila and Cebu. These vessels alone had with them more than 5,000 US military personnel. Balikatan and Carat exercises have not yet started but not less than 18 US military vessels have visited the country since the start of the year.
The president, during his latest SONA said, “Hindi imposible para sa Pilipinas na tumindig at sabihing: ‘Ang Pilipinas ay sa Pilipino – at handa kaming ipagtanggol ito.’ Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinong kaytagal nang yumuyuko tuwing may makakasalubong na dayuhan – ang Pilipino, ngayon, taas-noo, tinitingala ng buong mundo.’ (It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to stand strong and say, “The Philippines is for Filipinos—and we are ready to defend it.” It is not impossible for the Filipino who for so long had kept his head bowed upon meeting a foreigner—it is not impossible for the Filipino, today, to stand with his head held high and bask in the admiration of the world.)
Sadly, this is not what we witness now. The government has become dependent on the US for the training of Philippine troops. It now appears dependent also on the US military for rescue operations during calamities and for doing foot bridges and classroom repairs. At least, this is the impression the people get when government officials profusely thank visiting US defense officials or when they attend so-called joint military exercises and community relations programs.
Clearly the Philippines is getting increasingly militarized courtesy of the US and its program of rebalancing to Asia and the Pacific. This is dangerous for the Philippines, for its environment and its people. Rather than providing security, it is more and more making the Philippines a fair target of attacks from the US’ many enemies, our territory becomes the US military’s garbage dump, and our women get increasingly commodified and abused during regular military rest and recreation.
Mr. President, make our agencies work and do not allow US troops to spread their “soft power”, doing token human relations work. Please end the military agreements that are detrimental to Philippine interests and uphold the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on freedom from nuclear weapons, foreign bases and troops. Save the Philippines from getting involved in another US’ war.
*This is the official statement of SCRAP VFA! Movement, a broad Alliance that calls for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty in the Philippines. YND is one of its’ active members.