US-RP’s Unviable and Dagger-tattered VFA
November 8, 2014
“Intervention only works when the people concerned seem to be keen for peace.’
The Visiting Force Agreement (VFA) paved way to a 10-year pact which is another opportunity for the US government to maintain its intervention to the Philippine soil. Before VFA’s enactment, anti-agreement protests from nationalistic group and from concern government officials have been sparking. We owe debt of gratitude to these Filipinos who represent the Filipino sentiments that we share as we witness and feel the undesirable unfolding impact of this understanding between the US and the Philippines. For these reason, revolutionary efforts to counter the ghosts of this agreement gradually emerge tattering the image of a covenant which protesters regards as an absolutely unconstitutional.
We are reminded that amidst protest in Manila on April 28, 2014, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin enacted another ten year military stay in the Philippine territory with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg. Inquirer. Net reports that according to the officials involve through Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), “the US military have greater access to bases across the Philippines under new ten year agreement which boost the defense capabilities of the Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on regional disputes.” For this, militant groups condemned as unconstitutional since the government allows US troops in the country under the guise of advancing the implementation of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which seemingly appears the US plans to establish its stronghold in the pacific Region in the event of war which can trigger the probabilities of the country’s unrests if US’ real and unknown purpose will materialize.
The stereotypes and pro-VFA populace should gear judgments on VFA’s flaws. Ever since its conception and implementation during the Arroyo regime, outcries from activists expressing credible views against it has been outpouring. From the crimes emerging from the American armies, intellectual activists have proven that their early perceptions for stopping this agreement has become a disturbing reality that serves as a prelude to more gruesome crimes knowing that another ten years agreement between US and the country has been recently enacted on April this year. For the concern individuals with reasons, it is not advisable to ride on with the media-sensational blitz that bully the personality of the dead- the previous victims of American soldier crimes represent the unlucky ones who by their doom reverberates the truth which the activists have intellectually predicted. Looking at it in a positive perspective, yields wisdom of everyone to realize that we were not the victims instead, we are bestowed with graces for having by chance, some sacrificed their lives so that awakening may rise among Filipino consciousness.
Activists rally for the reason that they see evident causes endangering the majority of a country’s populace not merely based from the recent murder-incident but because they have perceived more dreadful crimes that these visiting American Soldiers may bring not to mention all other American -related crimes committed during their stay as visitors in the country riding through the provisions stipulated in the (VFA) enacted during the Arroyo regime and continues to thrive today. The agreement to them serves as every American soldier and personnel’s “passports” for immunity in the commission of crimes which creates and escalates more unexpected felonies that may ruin the peace of a nation especially that a ten –year agreement has been forged to galvanize American’s stay in the country.
As of the latest, President Aquino refuses the tearing out of this agreement since according to him, the dispatched of the US military troops for exercise in Mindanao has reduced insurgency in the south which is so ironic because there are lots of countries in turmoil over the world that needs the help of the United States other than the Philippines. It is so astounding that the United States does not send its military troops to Syria, Iraq or to endangered Kurdistan to oppose the ISIS Muslim extremists rather than conducting military strikes which don’t seem to actively participate in cooperation with the Arab-State Coalition against the Muslim militant group, who dream to establish a Caliphate States through their unsanctioned bizarre ideologies. Ironic since insurgencies in Mindanao are far from how brutal the Muslim extremists do in pursuit of their agenda in the Middle East. It looks like that the Philippine government direly needs help from the US due to its conflict with China over a territory neglecting the fact that the longer the Americans stay in the country, the more vulnerable the country is through the misconducts and offenses of the military force.
Surprising because Americans, unknowingly without the US government notice, many of its citizens are joining the Jihadists movement in Syria and Iraq not to mention the former American hostage American Steven Sotloff and U.S. Journalist James Foley who were beheaded this year by Islamic extremist groups which displays US failures within the last quarter of this year. It is very startling to know how “precious” the Filipinos to the USA are. Is this a sign of a complimentary action with other undisclosed top secret motives towards the territories of his Pacific Region allies?
President Obama disclosed on April 24, 2014 during the signing of EDCA amidst protest in the Philippines that” the deal is not USA dominance over the Philippines “ and further explained, “that it is about cooperating in training exercises and serves to respond quickly to a range of challenge for natural disasters and counter-terrorism.” If so why didn’t he commandeered his troops to Palestine and Israel, to Ukraine and Russia instead of converging with countries of the European Union (EU) by just merely warning Russia to be given sanctions despite Russia’s advancement over Ukraine’s territories? Is I this a sign that USA has gone to a point to have perceived its weakness? Is it just fathering a façade to show the world that the USA cares? Has it perceived the absence of its benefit when his moves to save countries in conflicts, materialize?
The “valuable” presence of the troops in the Philippines are seen by the pro-VFA government officials as fitting and proper due to their claims that these armies’ dispatch have relevant roles as peace-makers. However, it is again contradictory to the recent ANC TV report that Zamboanga is a dangerous destination. The website Destination Tips lists Zamboanga as the 9th most dangerous of 12 cities all over the world this week. Tessa Riley reports on Zamboanga as “one city you should seriously steer clear of for the time being. It has been the center of a battle between the Republic of the Philippines (RP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) since September 2013,” Riley said further. “There have been rocket attacks, heavy mortar fire, houses burned and hostage takings. Even an organized kidnapping-for-ransom plot targeting foreigners has been identified in the region. Clearly, heading to a city plagued with these issues is not recommended,” the writer added. This is an Implication that the presence of American troops in Mindanao doesn’t make any difference from the usual disturbing situation in Southern Philippines. Like Russia over Ukraine today, USA hasn’t removed its imperialistic tendencies which thrives smoothly within 3rd world countries who allow the US as string pullers to be pulled and suspended, to be controlled and to be manipulated.
Consider the following sentiments : Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) declares that , “Philippine American- relation remain lopsided 20 years after the senate voted to boot out the US and that the “ people’s victory” over the US bases in 1991 had been challenged by the VFA. It also said that, “the Aquino administration has “uncritically” accepted the permanent and continuing presence of the US troops in Mindanao urging lawmakers and executive branches of the country to defend the hard won gains of the rejection of the US bases. The VFA and the US troops in Mindanao is a stark reminder that US intervention is alive.”
GABRIELA, says that the culture of sex and violence continue to happen in areas specified in the VFA. Ms. Linaban from this women’s group stated that “800 cases of violence against women and children were filed but not a single case has prospered in court of whom Americans are the perpetrators- who were freed under the protection of the US- government and connivance of the Philippine government.”
Linaban as reported by GMA news on Sept 2011 also cited a US cable, published on WikiLeaks stating that the “US ambassador Kristie Kenney and the Department of Foreign affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo connived to prevent the detention of rapist Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith at the Makati City Jail and facilitated his transfer despite the ambiguity of the provisions of the VFA.” She added that “this is a manifestation of the interests of the Philippine government which doesn’t intend to get justice over the abuse of Filipinos but their interests is more on protecting its masters.”
Feedbacks from BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes called for the lawmakers and executive branch of the government to preserve the hard-won gains of the rejection of the US bases by terminating the VFA and calling for the immediate removal of US troops in Mindanao.
The death of Jeffrey Laude that brought accusations to US private first class Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City lead to a public outcry against the VFA.Recently, Daily Inquirer reports that the lawmakers regard this ,” a big slap on the face of Filipino nations unable to take custody of the American soldier accused of killing a resident of Olongapo City.”
As of the present, Akbayan Party list representative Walden Bello and Senator Mirriam Defensor Santiago filed a joint resolution that demands the termination of the VFA because it is evident that USA uses this agreement to evade the liabilities for the crimes of its psychologically ill soldiers. House joint resolution no.19 and senate joint resolution no. 11 declares that the acts committed by American personnel in our country are contrary to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, human rights standards, and norms concerning the protection of the environment. The new joint resolution also issues a directive to foreign Affairs Secretary to provide the notice to the US government on the termination of the VFA. Representative Bello and Senator Santiago have specified the violation of US military since its 15 years of operation in the country. GMA reports that, these violation include “2005 Subic base rape case, 2013 USS Guardian destructions of the territorial seas, 2012 hazard wasted dumping by US contractor Glen Defense Marine Asia.”
Furthermore, Joint resolution was filed by activist groups that included Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned teachers and Kabataan. Grabriela prepared its share for another resolution. GMA News additionally reports that the lawmakers brought out some issues : raped of a Filipina in Subic, Zambalez in 2005 by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, the shooting of a farmer in Buyong Bugong in Basilan in 2002 which involved an American soldier Regie Lane, the shooting of Arsid Baharon in Barangay San Roque, Zamboanga 2001 by another American Soldier whose identity was withheld by the US authorities. According to activists, there were reports that the US facilities in the Philippine soil are used for surveillance of other countries in Asia by the Americans themselves.
The fight for escalating nationalism in the 1990’s ended the United States military bases in the Philippines. It can be recalled that in 1991, twelve top government officials voted for the successful removal of the R-P US basis treaty. These senators were called the magnificent twelve which consists of senators Agapito Aquino, Sotero Laurel II, Ernesto Maceda Jr., Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag, Jovito Salonga, Wigberto Tanada, and Victor Ziga that included Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former President Joseph Estrada, and former Vice President Teofisto Guingona III.
What kind of legacy will the arroyo and Aquino administrations provide its people? With the insistent restoration of the VFA, the country is perceived to be heading towards uncertainty as far as the VFA and the EDCA exist. It’s time to walk the talk. May solidarity thrive among all the citizens of the country to be a part of the movement in tearing out the VFA that employs most of its mentally disturbed members to set on Philippine land under the guise of deescalating country’s insurgency and strengthening ties and through increasing annual US military aid for the Philippines’ AFP to over $5O million. We support the activists in the country for a cause by keeping constant vigilance over the consequences of the agreement.
We call for all sectors of the government especially the educational sector of the country, which comprises mostly the youth forming most of the populace, to reinforce the ideas to students in the classroom to weigh and consider its drawbacks. Let the youth build a strong nationalistic ideologies of which serves as their weapons and voices to stand and deliver their highest convictions against foreign intrusions so that atrocities may be prevented if not to be totally eradicated.
Finally, even Russian President Vladimir Putin says in one of his public speeches, “It’s alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries become a commonplace for the United States,” which implies that he too foresees unexplainable motives, the US have over the Pacific Region’s firstname.lastname@example.org@yahoo.com