The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) urged Congress to look into the reported extension of the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). Bayan maintained that the circumstances surrounding the extension of the pact are ‘shrouded in secrecy…[and]…raises serious questions regarding the real intentions of both the Philippine and U.S. governments.
BY EMILY VITAL
Vol. VII, No. 49, January 20-26, 2008
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) urged Congress to look into the reported extension of the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).
General Edilberto Adan of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) announced the extension of the agreement early this week. The MLSA was signed on Nov. 21, 2002 effective for a period of five years. The MLSA is an agreement that allows U.S. troops unlimited and unhampered access to Philippine facilities in the course of their stay in the country under the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Under the MLSA, a review should have been conducted one year before the pact expired. Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general, said, “We have not heard of any review and we are surprised that the VFACom is claiming that such a review even took place. The public should have at least been informed of such a review and its results.”
Reyes maintained that the circumstances surrounding the extension of the pact are ‘shrouded in secrecy…[and]…raises serious questions regarding the real intentions of both the Philippine and U.S. governments.
Reyes added, “We are disturbed that the extension of the MLSA comes in the wake of reports that U.S. forces are establishing permanent facilities in Mindanao. We have received reports that U.S. military presence in Southern Philippines has gone beyond the temporary time frame contemplated in the VFA. We are also investigating reports that structures are being set up by the U.S. military in Philippine facilities in a fashion that gives them virtual basing rights in the country.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo announced that he would file a resolution, upon the resumption of Congress on Jan. 28, calling for an inquiry into the abuses and violation of the U.S.-RP Visiting Forces Agreement – Terms of Reference by U.S. troops.
Ocampo cited the incident in November when a U.S. non-commissioned officer ordered a hospital in Panamao town to close every night thereby preventing medical personnel from treating patients after sundown. American troops who set up camp at a Marine base near the hospital even told doctors to treat their patients at the municipal hall.
Ocampo said that “letting this incident pass could lead to further abuses by U.S. armed forces personnel against the Filipino people. In light of the fact that throughout the year there are U.S. military forces in Mindanao thus negating the Constitutional prohibition against foreign troops’ presence in Philippine soil.”
He said that “it is high-time for the country to assert its independence and jurisdiction over US troops and not let them freely trample upon our sovereignty.”(Bulatlat.com)