“We will never again allow the travesty of Philippine sovereignty. The Filipino people and Philippine Senate booted out the US bases in 1991 as one of the last vestiges of our colonial relations with America,” said Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan coalition of eight progressive political parties.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
Various groups expressed opposition to the reestablishment of US military bases in the Philippines after two US senators visited the former military base in Subic.
Last Tuesday, US Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran met with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III after visiting the Subic Bay Freeport. Malacanang denied there were talks about the revival of military bases but progressive groups deemed that the US military is searching for alternative places to establish bases in the face of growing opposition to their military bases in Okinawa, Japan, headquarters of the US 7th Pacific Fleet.
It was reported by a major media network that the US senators were exploring the probability of an increased US presence in the country, using the former Subic Naval Base, because of the recent disasters that hit Japan.
For more than 50 years after granting “independence,” the US retained control over close to 70,000 hectares covering the Subic Naval Base, Clark Air Base, Camp John Hay and several other military bases across the Philippines. On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to reject the proposed Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security which would have effectively extended the 1946 US-RP Military Bases Agreement for another 10 years.
“Twenty years after the landmark repeal by the Philippine Senate of the 1946 US-RP Military Bases Agreement (MBA), the US imperialists are again seeking to establish their military presence in Subic Bay. This will be a great historical reversal,” the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement sent through email.
In a statement, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said that if the prospect of a return of US bases is true, it is “an irony.” “We are celebrating this year the 20th anniversary of the historic Senate vote rejecting the US bases treaty in 1991. Instead of welcoming the return of G.I. Joe, we should continue to assert our sovereignty and independence,” Palatino said.
Despite the denial of the US Embassy of reported plans to revive the military base in Subic, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the visit of the US Senators is “highly suspicious.”
“Why Subic and why at this time when the VFA [Visiting Forces of Agreement] is due for review?” asked Ilagan. Ilagan said the conflicts in the Middle East and the recent resurgence of China’s interest in the Spratlys are developments which can rock USA’s political and military dominance. “The US would want to retain a base or stronghold in the Philippines, which has a strategic location in Asia,” Ilagan said.
“We will never again allow the travesty of Philippine sovereignty. The Filipino people and Philippine Senate booted out the US bases in 1991 as one of the last vestiges of our colonial relations with America,” Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan coalition, a coalition of eight progressive political parties, said.
“If the Aquino regime acquiesces to the US government’s plan to reestablish its facilities in Subic, it would be committing a grave historic act of treachery against the Filipino people,” said the CPP.
Makabayan Coalition assailed the ongoing “secret talks” between US officials and Philippine government executives on the possible comeback of US bases in Subic. The group demanded full transparency of the talks.
The Makabayan coalition particularly noted the “secrecy” and media blackout behind the four-day visit of the two US senators with Aquino, Senate President Enrile, Foreign Affairs Secretary del Rosario, Olongapo city officials and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) executives.
“We demand full transparency of the talks involving bilateral relations of our country with the US. Global realities today show a clear weaning away of former client states from US big power politics as seen in increasing number of Latin American countries, in North Africa and in the Middle East. Any US military build-up in the Southeast and the Pacific should be blocked by all freedom-loving peoples and nations,” the coalition said.
Virtual Basing of US Troops
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the VFA and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) have allowed virtual basing of US troops in the country.
“Philippine sovereignty has already been undermined by the Visiting Forces Agreement which allows the unhampered entry of an unlimited number of US troops for an unspecified length of stay, with undefined objectives. This has paved the way for the permanent stationing of US troops in Mindanao. The VFA is not a basing agreement and cannot be used to justify the return of US bases as what is being implied by some quarters. The basing of US troops in Mindanao is proof of how the VFA’s broad provisions are being abused by the US,” Bayan said.
The MLSA, meanwhile, has allowed US forces to use civilian and military facilities such as Subic and Clark, the group said. Bayan noted that the two agreements provide for the virtual basing of US troops sans any treaty ratified by the Senate. “The Philippine government has willingly allowed this subversion of our sovereignty in exchange for so-called US military aid,” the group said. For Makabayan coalition, “it is one thing for the almost perpetual hosting of US troops and military exercises under the VFA and quite another thing for the outright permanent basing of US troops, ships and armaments, which includes their nuclear arsenal.” “Even the Philippine Constitution clearly disallows that,” Ocampo said.
“By maintaining its presence in the Philippines, the US military continues to use the Philippines as a jumping board and base for the forward deployment of their units in order to intervene militarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The US continues to use the Philippines as a foil against the economic and military expansionism of China which the US regards as one of the biggest threats to US imperialist ultra-national interests,” pointed out the CPP.
The CPP claimed that the US forces also engage in counterinsurgency operations, directly and through the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “They act in accordance with the US Counterinsurgency Guide and seek to put an end to the Filipino’s resistance against US economic, political and military dominance in the Philippines.”
“The Filipino people should oppose the collaboration of the US government and Aquino regime to heighten US military presence in the country,” added the CPP. “We must rekindle the spirit of patriotism in order to assert national sovereignty and confront the issue of US military interventionism and economic and political dominance.”