Protest vs. USS Hawaii, spy plane
September 10, 2012
Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today blamed the growing US military presence in the country for aggravating the already tense relations between the Philippines and China with President Hu Jintao apparently refusing to meet with President Benigno Aquino on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Russia.
Bayan made the statement as activists trooped to the US embassy in Manila to protest the arrival of another nuclear-powered submarine in Subic Bay and the participation of a US spy plane in a naval exercise in Mindanao. The group said that Hu skipping the already scheduled bilateral talks with Aquino in Vladivostok could be in protest of this latest display of American military posturing in the region.
The group reiterated that the country should peacefully and diplomatically assert its sovereignty over Philippine territories being claimed by China. But it said that efforts to resolve the dispute through diplomatic means are being made ever more difficult by the increasing presence of US military forces in the country as part of its announced “pivot” to Asia Pacific.
Last Friday, USS Hawaii, a Virginia class submarine docked at Subic Bay in Zambales for what the US embassy described as a “routine port call and goodwill visit”. Aside from the USS Hawaii, the USS Frank Cable, a submarine tender (a type of ship that supplies and supports submarines) for Los Angeles class submarines, is also docked at Subic since September 3 supposedly for a routine port call as well. In the previous months, two “fast attack” submarines – the nuclear-powered USS North Carolina and the USS Louisville – and the US’s largest hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, also docked at the former US naval base. At the Manila Bay, the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius also made a stop last August.
Meanwhile, US navy surveillance plane PC Orion flew over the Davao Gulf from an airport in Cebu City to participate in a coast watch exercise with the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) last week. Also recently, China expressed concern over US plans to build a missile defense system in Asia that is designed to contain the world’s second largest economy. The plan reportedly includes building a powerful early warning radar in the Philippines.
Bayan warned that while American and Filipino officials are justifying the increased US military presence in the country and in the region to ensure regional stability, the end-result could be a possible race for military buildup between China and the US which could further destabilize the region.
Instead of peace and stability, Filipinos are being exposed to an unnecessary conflict and insecurity, Bayan said. The increasingly frequent port visits by advanced American warships also put the country at risk of a nuclear disaster as these vessels are likely carrying nuclear weapons, which violates the country’s sovereignty and constitution. ###