By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Even in the US, the message is clear: “Philippines is not for sale!”
US-based activists shouted this chant during a speaking engagement of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on May 4. The event was one of Marcos Jr.’s final stops in his first official working visit in the US.
Founded in 1962, the CSIS is a think-tank that studies political and economic policies that would “sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world.” The CSIS strongly endorsed the recent developments in the US-Philippine alliance.
In his speech, Marcos Jr elaborated on the future of economic cooperation between the Philippines and the US, which he said, will soon be guided by the new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), as well as the existing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
But for activists calling for just trade and justice in the Philippines, the said “partnership” dependent on foreign investments particularly in mining “would put the Filipino people on the losing end.”
“In the far-flung areas where the Lumad live, the government of the Philippines shut down their schools, labeled them as breeding grounds for terrorists, and said they’re encouraging rebellion, when all they are doing is providing relevant and accessible education, which the government fails to provide,” said Drew Miller of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Miller added that Marcos Jr’s policies and push for further foreign investment will continue to exploit and displace the indigenous peoples from their mineral-rich lands.
Miller said that in 2011, the US assessed that Mindanao — the ancestral home of the Lumad — had $1 trillion worth of untapped resources.
Leo Wu of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) meanwhile refuted Marcos Jr’s statements that military bases in the Philippines, under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), would not be used for war with China over Taiwan as tensions escalate in the region.
“[The US] calls the Philippines an unsinkable aircraft carrier which means they want to put the Philippines at the forefront of the coming war between the US and China,” Wu said.
Marcos Jr claims that the EDCA sites in the Philippines are principally for aid in natural disaster response and to “address climate change.”
But Malaya Movement Baltimore stressed in a statement the irony that EDCA bases would supposedly help address climate change when “the U.S. is actually the world’s number one polluter.”
There are currently nine EDCA sites in the Philippines.
In this visit, Marcos Jr. boasted to have secured $1.3 billion worth of investment pledges.
The protest action was led by ICHRP. It is the culmination of the groups’ “Marcos Out of DC Week of Action.”
This visit was Marcos Jr’s second time after having presidential diplomatic immunity, protecting him from an ongoing US contempt order amounting to $353 million, ICHRP said. (RTS,DAA)