SOLIDARITY STATEMENT ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RATIFICATION OF THE RP-US VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
From Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr and Senator Serge Osmena III*
for the JUNK VFA Movement activity, Rajah Sulayman Plaza, Manila
May 27, 2009
May 27, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Senate ratification of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement. It was 10 years ago that we joined the people in standing up against what we believed then was a patently unequal agreement, an affront to Philippine sovereignty.
The 10-year implementation of the VFA has proven this to be so.
We saw how the standards of justice are applied differently on erring American soldiers who get special treatment while undermining Philippine judicial processes. We saw how US interests in the VFA weighed heavily on the acquittal of US Marine Daniel Smith who was accused of raping a Filipina.
We are alarmed with the virtually permanent presence of US troops in the Philippines sans any basing treaty ratified by the Senate. The rotating deployment and stationing of US troops, in the guise of joint exercises, has negated the victories won in the rejection of the US Bases Treaty in 1991.
We note the injuries to human life, damage to property and disruption of livelihood as a result of the Balikatan war games throughout the country.
We know too that despite the claims of the supposed indispensability of the VFA. The Filipino people have clearly not derived any real benefit from it, and the country remains no safer than it was before the VFA. Recent allegations of corruption in the Balikatan exercises again raises the question on who really benefits from the VFA.
Ten years of the VFA has revealed to us many things. It has shown us how sovereignty is incompatible with the prolonged presence of foreign troops. It has shown us how our legal processes can be undermined by diplomatic considerations.
On the 10th anniversary of the VFA, we reaffirm our adherence to national sovereignty, genuine independence and human rights. We call on the Senate to revisit the VFA and for the Philippine government to exercises it’s right to terminate this agreement. (Bulatlat.com)