Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today criticized the docking of yet another nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier and its escort ships in Manila Bay for a supposed goodwill visit. The group said that such continuing and increasingly more frequent presence of US warships in Philippine waters undermines stability in the region as it fuels the still raging tension with China over territorial disputes.
Bayan said that diplomatic efforts to resolve the tension in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and Panatag Shoal are being weakened by the continued and intensified force projection of the US military in the region as part of its so-called pivot to Asia Pacific.
The USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group starts today its supposed five-day goodwill visit in Manila and Cavite that include courtesy calls, reception, ship’s tour, professional exchanges or Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs), Community Relations or Community Services (COMREL or COMSERV) projects and goodwill games between the two countries’ navies. In addition, the visit also a rest and recreation (R&R) opportunity for American soldiers.
Bayan said that aside from fueling regional tension, the presence of US warships also endangers the national security as these ships are likely carrying nuclear weapons that make the country vulnerable to nuclear disaster. The 1987 Constitution bans the presence of nuclear weapons in the Philippines but is possibly being violated every time US warships enter the country given official American policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons aboard their ships.
The group also pointed out that the presence of a large number of US military personnel in foreign countries, especially during R&R of American troops, has resulted in various abuses against the locals. Just recently, in Okinawa, which hosts half of the 47,000 American armed forces in Japan, two American sailors were accused of raping a local woman. In the Philippines, there was the controversial rape case that involved US marine Daniel Smith. Unfortunately, the rape case was hijacked when US and Philippine officials colluded to protect Smith and the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Bayan renewed its call for the junking of the VFA and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US, and for all American troops and warships to withdraw from the Philippines, emphasizing that such presence seriously violates the country’s national sovereignty while putting in grave danger peace and stability in the region and the security of the Filipino people. ###