US bases: Aquino’s gift to Obama

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Streetwise | BusinessWorld

This April, during the much-awaited visit of US President Barack Obama, Philippine President BS Aquino will be serving nothing less than our national sovereignty and dignity on a silver platter via the new “access agreement” negotiated in secret by the two governments.

All that remains to be worked out, according to the Philippine negotiator, is the “language,” meaning the legal formulations that will shield the agreement from any Supreme Court challenge that it violates the foreign-troops and bases-free as well as nuclear-free provisions of the Philippine Constitution. The Executive Department meanwhile is busy rehashing and honing the arguments to bolster its insistence that the “access agreement” is not a treaty but a mere “executive agreement” that does not require Senate ratification.

Because neither the public, nor the treaty-making body, the Philippine Senate, is privy to the discussions and official drafts being exchanged and presumably being quibbled over by the negotiating panels, all we have to go by for now are the press releases of the Philippine side. The trickle of information is at the very least disturbing, if not alarming, and leads us to suspect that “a de facto basing agreement disguised as an access pact” is in the works.

Not content with the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and 2001 Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement (MLSA), the US, with the willful compliance of the BS Aquino regime, aims to attain the following through the new “access agreement”: (1.) increase the number (now at a minimum of 600 at any given time) of troops stationed or forward-deployed in the Philippines; (2.) allow US troops access to all Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) facilities; and (3.) increase the pre-stationing or storage of US war materiel or munitions (weapons, ammunition, aircraft, sea craft, land transport and all sorts of logistical supplies).

According to reports, the US will gain not only access but also the ability to set up their own facilities within AFP facilities. To counter criticisms that there will be US-controlled areas that will be hands-off to Philippine authorities, negotiators say that while the agreement allows US facilities to be set up, Philippine authorities will nonetheless be given “access” to them albeit subject to “operational safety and security considerations” imposed by the US.

Now, if this is not tantamount to extraterritorial rights attendant to basing rights we welcome further illumination from the Aquino government.

It is crystal clear that the last 12 years of the VFA have served to fine-tune a system wherein US troops and war materiel are actually stationed on Philippine territory, theoretically on a temporary basis, but in reality on a long-term, if not essentially permanent, basis (barring military exigencies and operational shifts that require redeployment).

But it also evident that the US is not satisfied with the present set up and is aiming to station a far greater number of its military forces and equipment in an ever-expanding area of Philippine territory and thus gaining greater flexibility and wider room for maneuver than ever before. Such requirements are concomitant to its military “pivot” to the Asia- Pacific region.

In the past the trick has been to pass off this boot presence as “rotating” and to limit visibility by relegating the US troops to far off Zamboanga and to lesser known and more low-key facilities in Cebu, Camp Aguinaldo, and even reported secret facilities in Clark Field, Pampanga.

Under the current setup, the US must also continue to put up the faéade of “joint military training exercises” as the occasion for the influx of hundreds, if not thousands, more US soldiers than usual. Even their soldiers’ requirements for periodic R&R have to be dovetailed to purported training exercises.

As to their war armada — including nuclear-powered and likely nuclear-armed carriers, destroyers, submarines, manned and unmanned aircraft (the latter including armed drones used to carry out assassination missions in Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan and the like) — these have been arriving, berthing and undergoing repairs and resupply in Philippine ports and airfields in greater number and with increasing frequency in the last couple of years. But it is obvious the US wants to maximize Subic Bay and is looking to a new facility that the will be built in Oyster Bay, Palawan for stationing its warships. In fact, in an archipelagic country such as the Philippines, the vast coastline’s potential for providing safe harbor for US warships is immeasurable.

In effect, the “expanded access” to be granted to the US armed forces under the new “access agreement” will be a convenient and effective legal cover for unlimited, unqualified, and virtually uncontrolled (by Philippine authorities, that is) presence and on and off-duty activities of US military personnel in the country along with their pre-positioned military equipment.

The US and Philippine governments expect public approval of the new agreement by riding on one big myth: that US military forces are in the Philippines to protect it from both external and internal enemies, while providing humanitarian aid such as disaster relief and rescue. Corollary to this is that the US makes sure, through the VFA, MLSA and now the so-called “Enhanced Defense Capabilities Agreement,” that its presence and activities are all consistent with the Philippine Constitution and its legal processes.

Unfortunately this myth has been recently bolstered — no thanks to China’s inordinate big-nation posturing and bullying — by Philippine fears that it cannot, on its own, protect its backyard, especially its western coastline and territorial waters, and can survive only behind the protective cover of the US.

What is not being mentioned or recalled is the grim truth, the bitter lesson we had learned firsthand from our history but perhaps are wont to quickly forget: the presence of a foreign military power can serve not as a protective cover, but more a magnet for a military attack from that foreign power’s enemies, not necessarily ours. Spain was attacked by the US at the turn of the 20th century; the US was attacked by Japan in World War II. Neither the Americans nor the Japanese were enemies of the Filipino people when they invaded and occupied the Philippines in 1898 and 1941, wreaking death, destruction, havoc and untold suffering.

Although the US is admittedly and incontestibly the current sole Superpower, it is also evidently in decline, its economy, political and cultural fiber afflicted by profound malaise. This is why it is scrambling to control global strategic resources and prevent the rise of a potential “peer competitor” (i.e. China), banking on its might and trampling on other nations and peoples’ rights in the process.

But as history shows, no empire is too mighty that does not inevitably create, by its very might(read: oppressiveness) the same forces that contribute to, and all together bring about, its decline and fall.

Published in Business World
March 20, 2014

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  1. This article is rational, cold and to the point and in all probability due to its publication in a Business World scenario.

    It is not hard hitting as it should be, perhaps, had it been so, the editors would have toss it to the trash can!

    It expresses some sarcasm, but nonetheless suffers from a lack of anger, hurt and insufficient frustration, and therefore, it does not carry or support the importance of weight that should be given to the Philippines loss of its national sovereignty and dignity which is far worst than its current territorial troubling issue with China.

    China very recent exertion of its military and space power, is directly a result from the US pivot to Asia Pacific in order to feed the US military/oil/financial industries who needs warring-like activities to support their commercial interests and likewise to constrain an arising dragon. It is quite clear that China increasing strategic interests and influence has struck many chords of fear in USA and these monopolistic opportunistic commercially profit oriented organs are able to exploit such fears and they want to have their cake and eat it by exploiting China and yet contain China rising world influence.

    Due to the US pivot to Asia Pacific, we now have Russia pivot to Asia Pacific too. With three superpowers in contest, who are the ones that will likely suffer in such a contest for influence and profit? The weakest will suffer and we can be sure in the near future, Philippines and Filipino will be among the casualties of such pivot, as we shall be comes end of April with a black heart Presidential visit from a white country to receive a welcome visit heap with gifts from brownies, as what Filipinos were called during America occupation of Philippines in the nineteen and twentieth centuries.

  2. I would like to comment on the wild foolishness in Carol Pagaduan-Araullo’s story, (US bases: Aquino’s gift to Obama). It is clear she is anti-American so let us consider some of the other countries that occupied the Philippines

    It is said that the Spaniards treated the Filipino less than a servant, (there was even some foods Filipinos was not worthy to eat). And the Spaniards was also known for striping countries of their valuables.

    The British was not much better, 1762 to 1764 “Once Manila fell to British troops, the churches and government offices were ransacked, valuables were taken and historical documents such as Augustinian records, government documents and even the copper plates for the grand 18th-century Murillo Velarde map of the Philippines were ransacked along with the naval stores at the Cavite Naval Yard, the paintings in the Governor General’s Palace, the contents of Intramuros churches and the possessions of most wealthy houses. Rape, Homicide and Vandalism also rampaged through the city in what is known as the First “Rape of Manila”. The British demanded a ransom of four million dollars from the Spanish government to stop the plundering of the city, to which Archbishop Rojo agreed in order to avoid further destruction” (

    And next we have the Japanese, “Much is heard of the Rape of Nanking when the rampaging Japanese Imperial Army killed 300,000 from 1937 to 1938, and raped 20,000 women.” “With rape on the streets and everywhere else, the Bayview Hotel became Manila’s rape center. After the dirty deed was done, (Filipina’s) nipples were sliced off, and bodies bayoneted open from the neck down.” (

    And we have the US, they built schools, roads, cities, hospitals, a government, etc. The Filipino had the 2nd highest income (close to Japan) in all of Asia. Where is the Filipino now? Millions going to other countries to work and live after the American Bases pulled out.

    Now I would like to make reference to real life experiences as an American ExPat living in the central Luzon (Metro Manila) area. The level of Hatred, Racism and Selfishness in this area towards Americans is off the charts. And based on my experiences this is why I feel President Obama should Not visit the Philippines in April. To follow is a little background on myself.

    I ran for US Congress in east Texas (TX-01) in 2006 (the Democratic Nominee) and 2008 (as an Independent) against Louie Gohmert. One of several endorsements was the Libertarian Party in east Texas. After that lose, I moved to the Philippines Jan., 2009.

    I also took the liberty to make a 45 minute video which I uploaded onto You Tube: ( explaining why President Obama should not visit the Philippines in April. Within the video, I took the liberty to make reference to a lot of US issues ( Immigration, Education, the National Debt, Trade Deficit, Filipino Dual Citizenship, the US Embassy in Manila, etc.) which media sources in the US would find of interest if I had of defeated Louie Gohmert.

    My position is President Obama should not be wasting the American Taxpayer’s Money (or tarnishing the image of Washington DC) on countries like the Philippines until the Philippine government and the Filipino people extend the SAME opportunities to all ExPats that Filipinos enjoy in the US..

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