Archive | July, 2013

Bayan slams Aquino anti-corruption hypocrisy amid pork scam

Posted on 31 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 31, 2013

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today branded the Aquino government’s anti-corruption drive as “sheer hypocrisy” after it defended the continued use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, commonly known as the pork barrel. Malacanang said that the PDAF had good intentions and was needed for the delivery of services to provinces.

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said that the pork barrel system cannot be reformed because it is part of and reinforces the systemic corruption in the bureaucracy. “The calls to abolish the pork barrel system are growing louder as more and more lawmakers are exposed as being involved in ghost projects and deliveries. Malacanang continues to make excuses about the need to retain this rotten system, thus exposing Aquino as the ultimate hypocrite when it comes to fighting corruption,” he said.

“Only the politically naïve or the consciously deceptive will say that the PDAF system can be reformed. If Malacanang truly wants to serve the poor, it should increase the budget for hospitals, schools, housing and other social services and ensure that these services become accessible to the most number of people. Pork barrel has become not only a source of corruption but also a convenient excuse for government’s failure to deliver services,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that Malacanang is using both political patronage and systemic corruption to keep its influence over Congress. “In a sense, this regime is no different from the Arroyo regime in its defense of congressional pork and use of political patronage. This trend may intensify as Aquino enters his last years in office as he tries to avoid being a lame duck president,” Reyes added.

“It may be unthinkable for lawmakers to give up pork now, not when the 2016 presidential elections are so near. Some may already be building their electoral war chest this early. So any talk of reforming the PDAF and preventing lawmakers from dipping their hands into congressional pork would simply be foolish. The only alternative is to abolish it,” he added.

Bayan also noted that people are scandalized by the lavish lifestyle of the Napoles family amid allegations that Janet Lim Napoles orchestrated the PDAF scam which reached as much as P10 billion. The group however called on critics to direct their anger at the politicians in power.

“It’s already expected that people will raise hell against the lavish lifestyle of Janet’s daughter, Jeane Lim Napoles, who seems to be a beneficiary of the PDAF scam. But our greatest indignation should still be directed at those in power who continue to defend the rotten pork barrel system, to the proponents of the P27B PDAF in next year’s national budget, and to that one president who continues to deceive people with anti-corruption rhetoric while condoning systemic corruption,” Reyes said.

Bayan noted that just over a week after Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address, the regime is already hounded by several corruption controversies involving Congress, the Bureau of Customs , Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation and Communications.

“All that talk about change during his SONA just went up in a puff of smoke. The truth is coming out that this regime is fundamentally the same as previous regimes,” Reyes said. ###

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Bayan questions MRT 3 debt payments amid looming fare hike

Posted on 25 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 25, 2013

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today warned that the looming fare increase in the MRT 3 will only go to debt servicing and not to improvements in the train services. It said that the financial statements from the MRT 3 revealed several items that would require further scrutiny because they comprise the bulk of the expenses of the train line.

Bayan, citing the 2011 and 2012 financial statements of the MRT, said the Build Lease Transfer loan amortization  expenses reached P10.05 billion in 2011 and P6.75 billion in 2012. The biggest item in the loan amortization expenses was the Equity Rental Payments to private firms which built the train line. In 2011, the equity rental fee amounted to P4.68 billion while in 2012, equity rental fee was at P3.66 billion.

“Before any talk of a fare increase, government must first answer why we are continuously paying for questionable debt borne out of an onerous contract with the private developers of MRT. We must ask why we pay for the guaranteed profits of these companies. Raising fares and passing on the debt burden to the people doesn’t solve anything. It only legitimizes the onerous deals entered into by previous governments,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“While Aquino talked about onerous contracts in his SONA, here is one contract staring him in the face yet he chooses not to address it. Government subsidy to the train line is going to the private investors who were given guaranteed profits. Aquino now wants to pass on this obligation to the public via a hefty P5.00 – 7.00 fare hike this year. He justifies the increase through the fallacy that people in Mindanao are subsidizing commuters in Metro Manila, pitting the people against each other. The truth is, people from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are being made to pay these onerous debts, one way or another,” Reyes added.

Bayan also questioned the item “maintenance fee” and “price escalation for maintenance fee” which it said was increasing between 2011 and 2012 yet it was during this period that many train accidents or disruptions in service were recorded.

In 2011, the maintenance fee was P1.05 billion while the escalation fee reached P331 million. In 2012, maintenance fee was P582 million while the price escalation for maintenance fee P413 million.

The maintenance company is tied to the original financiers in the MRT line, as in the case of Sumitomo Corporation which handled maintenance until they were replaced when their contract expired in October 2012. PH Trams-CB&T won a 6-month maintenance contract that year and was extended to June 19 this year.

According to Bayan, the original proponents of the MRT 3 were private local and Japanese corporations which formed the consortium Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC). These investors made a killing on the MRT because government guaranteed payments to the banks that financed the project including the Export-Import Bank of Japan, Sumitomo Bank, and other Japanese and Czech banks as well some local financial institutions like the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).

Bayan said that the deal was made more financially onerous because the owners of these banks that provided a loan of $462.5 million in 1998 and the private firms that constructed the MRT have the same investors. MRTC included the Ayala Land Inc., owned by the Ayala family which also controls the BPI. MRTC also entered into an Engineering, Construction, and Procurement (EPC) Contract with the Sumitomo Corporation, owned by the same Japanese investors that control Sumitomo Bank. On top of the guaranteed debt payments, government also guaranteed that the MRTC will get 15 percent return on investment (ROI) per annum.

In fact, this deal was so burdensome that the previous administration in 2009 had to buyout 76 percent of MRTC for $800 million lump-sum payment in order to terminate the guaranteed ROI.

“The DOTC has said in its letter to Bayan dated July 2 that public consultations will be held regarding the fare hike. We have not received any notice of hearing. We have not received any documents that seek to explain the fare hike. Perhaps the fare hike hearing is only for show, for compliance, because the President already made his stand known on the fare hike. It is good as done,” Reyes added. ###

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Aquino’s longest SONA is short on real achievements for the people

Posted on 23 July 2013 by admin

Photo: people's sona...Press Statement

July 23, 2013

Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, though his longest yet, was based on the same recycled rhetoric of “daang matuwid”, with hardly any real achievements to show.

The people had every reason to mount protests yesterday because of the fundamentally unchanged conditions since Aquino became president. These protests were met with vicious suppression by the Philippine National Police.

Suppression of dissent

The violent attack on protesters was the result of the city government’s denial of a rally permit, the court’s failure to uphold the people’s rights and the Aquino regime’s vicious suppression of dissent. The PNP tried to present itself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing by giving us flowers and balloons. The protesters rejected the bogus offer and continued with our march, reaching beyond the main blockade at EVER Mall. A stand-off ensued. Leaders of the protest were negotiating with the PNP when without warning or provocation, the PNP attacked the protesters even before the results of the negotiations were made known. It was plain treachery. The violence that ensued showed us one facet of the State of the Nation, fascism, under the discredited daang matuwid. At least 41 protesters were injured with 10 being brought to the East Avenue Medical Center while 9 were arrested.

The PNP also violently dispersed the indignation rally demanding the release of activists detained at Camp Caringal.

We note that the CHR has released an initial statement that protesters were to blame for the violence. We ask the CHR to first conduct an honest investigation instead of defending the PNP though unfounded claims that only show the ideological and pro-Aquino bias of the CHR chairperson from Akbayan. Video footae will show that there was a peaceful stand-off before the police started attacking the protesters.


On the issue of accountability and stamping out corruption, Aquino merely recycled the old issues of Pagcor, TESDA scams and PNP rubber boats. No mention was made of the dismissal of all cases versus the “Pabaon” generals. No mention was made of the questionable water contracts that allowed private companies to pass on their income taxes to consumers. Aquino also justified the MRT-LRT fare hike despite new allegations of corruption involving the purchase of trains. Aquino didn’t speak about human rights violations and justice for victims of state forces.

There was no mention of Charter change or the Freedom of Information Bill. Aquino also did not clarify proposals that would allow US military forces to access PH facilities and preposition military equipment in the country.

Aquino has made it a habit to publicly criticize some government officials during his SONA in order to deflect attention from his own shortcomings and failures. However, Aquino turns a blind eye to the biggest forms of corruption found in Congress, the AFP, or in the many questionable public-private partnerships that involve the Executive branch.

Economic “growth” for whom?

Aquino tried to create the impression that economic opportunities are available by citing, for instance, Tesda scholarships, however, these do not reflect the reality of a deteriorating jobs crisis in the country as shown by government’s own data as well as surveys indicating that available economic opportunities could not cope with the increasing labor force. Surveys by the SWS, for example, show that the number of unemployed adult Filipinos rose by two million under Aquino.

Aquino made a big deal of the supposed reforms in the MWSS but conveniently ignored the bigger issue of the anomalous and onerous PPP contract between the MWSS and Maynilad and Manila Water. Under the Concession Agreement, the private concessionaires have been allowed to pass on to water consumers the costs of practically everything – from income taxes to corporate donations and advertisements. Aquino’s silence on the issue further exposed the hypocrisy of the daang matuwid and anti-corruption rhetoric of Aquino.

While Aquino again trumpeted inclusive growth as the main principle behind his administration’s every initiative, he continued to promote policies that will further impoverish the people while creating more profit-making opportunities for the rich. For instance, he reiterated the supposed need to hike LRT and MRT fares so that government resources used to subsidize Metro Manila commuters will be freed up for social services. He did not say that the supposed subsidies actually go to paying debt obligations arising from onerous PPP contract in the case of MRT. He did not say that the fare hike is a sweetener for the P60-billion extension and privatization of LRT 1, scheduled for bidding this month, as the biggest PPP project so far of the administration. Aquino also justified the demolition of urban poor communities and even said that if those relocated were hard-working, they will surely find job opportunities. The implication is that urban poor who cannot find work in relocation areas are just plain lazy. Aquino proclaimed that Philhealth coverage increased but did not say that the cost of health services are surely going to escalate with the entry of private businesses erstwhile public hospitals. No mention was made of the erstwhile “modern heroes”, the Filipino migrant workers, and the issues that they face.

Aquino again hailed the massive expansion in the coverage and budget of CCT and announced that the program will now also include families with high school students. Aquino did not say how the program is actually helping reduce poverty in the country. SWS surveys show a worsening poverty trend (i.e., number of poor families grew by 1.6 million under Aquino) while NSCB data indicate that, at best, the poverty situation is not improving, during the period of enormous expansion of the CCT program.

What is to come

The next three years of the Aquino regime will give us more of the same policies with many dire consequences. As the Philippines moves towards more privatization, liberalization and deregulation of the economy, the people will be faced with increasing hardships and burdens.  Aquino will try to cover up the crisis using the CCT dole-out program and meaningless indicators such as credit ratings upgrade and the stock market index. Aquino’s continuing hypocrisy regarding corruption; his inaction or support of questionable deals, is now coming out in the open. Palace spinmeisters will try hard to deceive the people but the emptiness of the regime’s rhetoric has already been exposed.

The next three years will see the people even more determined to fight the Aquino regime. ###

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Bayan asserts right to protest, holds SONA ng Bayan

Posted on 22 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 22, 2013

Even as the local government denied its petition for a permit to rally at the Batasang Pambansa, multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) asserted its right to peaceably assemble and protest the anti-people policies of President Benigno Aquino III in today’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the Chief Executive.

“Nothing can stop us. Not the rains and certainly not the repression by the regime. The SONA ng Bayan is our response to three years of the Aquino regime, the absence of meaningful changes, and intensifying attacks on the rights and welfare of the people, especially the poor,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes.

Bayan noted that the last three years have seen the widening gap between the rich and the poor, rising unemployment and poverty, and the escalation of prices.

“The so-called economic growth has benefited only the few ruling elite. While the people go hungry, the rulers feast on congressional pork and reap profits from privatization schemes,” Reyes said.

Selected indicators in the first three years of the Aquino presidency
Indicator Start of Aquino’s term Present
No. of poor families 8.9 million 10.5 million
No. of hungry families 3.6 million 4.1 million
No. of unemployed workers 9.5 million 11.6 million
Wealth of the 40 richest Filipinos $22.8 billion $47.4 billion
Water rates (Maynilad, Manila Water all-in tariffs) P29.98 to P33.08

per cubic meter

P37.29 to P46.72

per cubic meter

Power rates (Meralco distribution rates) P0.85 per kilowatt-hour P1.22 per kilowatt-hour
Oil prices
Diesel P34.25 per liter P42.40
Gasoline P44.00 per liter P51.60
LPG P576.50 – P651.50

per 11-kg cylinder tank

P617.00 – P745.00

per 11-kg cylinder tank

Notes: No. of poor families, hungry families, unemployed workers, and wealth of 40 richest Filipinos compare annual averages in 2010 and 2012; Water rates compare July 1, 2010 and July 3, 2013 rates; Power rates compare June 2010 and July 2013 rates; Oil prices compare June 29, 2010 and July 9, 2013 prices

Compiled by Bayan using data from the SWS surveys, Forbes magazine, MWSS Regulatory Office, Meralco, and DOE

Aside from the worsening economic crisis, the group emphasized that the first half of the Aquino presidency has been marked by three years of empty rhetoric about good governance and three years of impunity.

“Human rights continue to suffer setbacks through Aquino’s counter-insurgency program. Even the right to peaceably assemble is being curtailed by Aquino as the government is eager to show the world that constitutional rights do not matter when the President is giving a speech,” said Reyes.

Furthermore, the group noted that while Aquino talks tough against China, he has surrendered the national sovereignty to the US by allowing de facto American military bases in the country.

Some 100 foreign human rights defenders also attended today’s rally to monitor the human rights compliance of the Philippine government.

A 13-foot effigy of Aquino is among the highlights of the SONA ng Bayan. The effigy depicts the so-called economic growth being enjoyed by only a few ruling elite. The menu of the SONA “banquet” will include “lotsa pork, hefty servings of PPP, and expensive water from private companies”. (END)

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#SONA2013 effigy – Find out who’s “pigging out” with Noynoy as the nation goes hungry

Posted on 18 July 2013 by admin


Initial study of #SONA2013 effigy. Photo from UgatLahi

Press Release

July 18, 2013

BAYAN prepares 13-foot effigy of Pres. Aquino for SONA

As the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) prepares for the nationally-coordinated 2013 People’s Protest on July 22, Monday, its volunteer visual artists are also busy at work on this year’s effigy of the Philippine President.

The production of an effigy, or giant paper-mache sculpture, of the President is one of the highlights of the BAYAN rally and is a tradition that it has sustained for more than a decade since 2000.

“The effigy captures and symbolizes many of the issues raised against the current administration,” said Renato Reyes Jr., BAYAN Secretary General.

This year, BAYAN reveals, President Aquino will be portrayed as a 13-feet high giant feasting on a banquet, or “piging” in Filipino. Unlike the traditional fiesta, where hospitality, generosity, and goodwill is encouraged among the whole community, PNoy’s banquet is depicted as a lavishly sumptuous feast for a small circle of guests as the people wait for crumbs falling from the table.

The effigy is the group’s take on the kind of economic “growth” that the Aquino government would be claiming during the SONA. The group believes that there is no “inclusive growth” or “trickle-down growth” despite the claims that the Philippine Gross Domestic Product was the fastest rising in Asia. Only big business and the proponents of so-called “public-private partnership” projects are set to benefit from any of the supposed growth. It said that big business engaged in water, power, infrastructure were among those benefiting from economy as millions reel from high prices and fees.

The group also believes that any effort to change the Constitution and allow 100% foreign ownership of land and utilities would also result to a widening gap between the rich and poor as the move will only benefit local and foreign big business. Already the National Statistical Coordination Board has recently said that the gap between the richest and poorest Filipinos have increased over the past years.

“The people are not invited to this exclusive dinner party by the ruling elite. Look who’s “pigging out” with Aquino as the nation goes hungry. This government believes that growth will trickle down to the poor but that strategy has proven ineffective. People are being made to wait for crumbs to trickle down even as the richest 1% see their wealth double,” said Cris de Leon, UgatLahi Spokesperson.

“Sa handaan at pagdiriwang sa SONA, hindi kasama ang masa. Hindi sila nakikinabang sa anumang huwad na pag-unlad na ipagmamalaki ng Pangulo,” de Leon added.

Each year since 1999, UGATLahi has helped BAYAN prepare giant effigies of different presidents, from Joseph Estrada to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Benigno Aquino III. This will be their fourth effigy of Pres. Aquino for the annual SONA protests. Visual artists and BAYAN volunteers are currently completing the effigy.

The nationally-coordinated protest by BAYAN will include a multi-sectoral mobilization along Commonwealth Avenue on July 22. Various foreign observers are also expected to attend the event. ###

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Global conference vs. US pivot to Asia Pacific held

Posted on 17 July 2013 by admin

News release

July 16, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Activists and experts from various countries around the world gathered in Manila today for a three-day conference to share views, analysis and campaigns on US military bases and its so-called pivot to Asia Pacific. The conference“Engaging Peace and Sovereignty, Building People’s Solidarity: An International Conference on US Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific, US Militarism, Intervention and War”, will be held from July 16 to 18 at the Orchid Garden Suites Manila.

The gathering comes at a time when the Philippines and the US are negotiating the increased access of American forces to the country’s military facilities. Reports say that the arrangement will allow the US to position military equipment and rotate more troops in the country. Critics maintain that this will further re-establish and deepen permanent US military presence in the Philippines more than two decades after American bases were kicked out. The move is seen as part of the US pivot to Asia Pacific, with authorities using Manila’s territorial dispute with Beijing as justification.

According to its organizers, the conference aims to provide a critical analysis of the US strategy in the light of the growing struggles of peoples all over the world against imperialist globalization, all forms of foreign military presence, militarism, intervention and war. Different countries will also be sharing their experiences of struggles and resistance against US bases and troops.

Delegates and speakers from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Afghanistan and Kurdistan will participate in the conference. These countries either host US military bases or a large rotational deployment of American troops.

The Ban the Bases! Global Campaign Network, People’s Forum on Peace for Life, Asia Wide Campaign, Asia Pacific Anti-US Bases Network and the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) organized the event. The conference is expected to come up with a plan for a regional campaign against US bases and military presence in the region.

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QC government denies Bayan’s application for SONA rally permit

Posted on 17 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 17, 2013

The Quezon City local government has denied the application for a rally permit for the State of the Nation Address on July 22 filed by umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. The group said that they were informed by their counsels from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) of receiving the written denial on July 16, signed by former PNP General Elmo San Diego who heads the QC Department of Public Order and Safety. Bayan had originally applied for a rally permit along Batasan Road corner Commonwealth Avenue. The QC government instead offered a park near the City Hall which is several kilometers away from Batasan Road.

“We condemn the denial of the rally permit as it seeks to curtail the people’s right to assemble peacefully and air their grievances. This is a throwback to the time of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The message is clear. The QC government, upon the orders of Malacanang, does not want to allow protests on July 22. They want us to hold the protest in a park that is far removed from Batasan,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“It’s a rally not a picnic in a park, Mayor Bautista. We reject the arbitrary action of the QC government. Our lawyers are now meeting to determine the next course of action. The organizers of the SONA protest are determined to push through with the march and program,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that under the law, the only basis to deny an application for a rally permit is if the approving authority can prove that the protest poses a clear and present danger to public safety and public health.

“The denial does not bear any proof that the protest poses a clear and present danger to the public. ‘Traffic’ was the only reason cited. The police keeps on branding the protesters as possible threats but have not provided any proof to support this assertion,” Reyes said.

“The Aquino government only wants to  hear the applause and cheers from its allies in Congress. It does not want to face the reality of public dissatisfaction and indignation. It fears criticism. So much for Aquino’s claims of change. This government is doing exactly what Gloria did during her regime,”

On July 22, various groups are set to hold nationwide demonstrations against the Aquino government. Issues expected to take center-stage are the rising prices of commodities and services including water, electricity, oil, transportation fares and food. Groups are also opposed to plans to change the constitution to allow 100% ownership of land and utilities. They are also expected to protest plans to allow US and other countries access to military bases in the Philippines.

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Posted on 05 July 2013 by admin

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Fil-Am “Friendship” Day draws protests vs new basing/access plans

Posted on 04 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 4, 2013

Various groups today held a protest action near the US embassy in Manila to denounce plans to grant the United States military greater access to Philippine bases and facilities. The action coincided with the observance of Fil-Am Friendship Day.

“We affirm our friendship and solidarity with the American people but reject the special relations being claimed by the US government. True friends do not take advantage of your weakness, violate your laws, dump toxic wastes on your territory and meddle in your internal affairs. The US has long abused what it calls ‘friendship’ with the Philippines to mean getting away with almost anything while the Philippine government still hasn’t learned anything,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“People ask what’s wrong with granting allies like the US access to our facilities? What’s wrong is the history of abuse that comes from the presence of US troops in our country, from the time there were formal US bases up to the time of the Visiting Forces Agreement. The Aquino government, by granting greater access to US forces, wants this history of abuse to repeat itself,” he added.

Bayan cited the problems with long-term US military presence to include the undermining of sovereignty as PH laws do not automatically apply to erring US troops; the dangers to the environment as what happened to the Tubbataha reef grounding and Subic toxic waste dumping, the use of the Philippines as staging ground for US regional intervention and the possible escalation of tension with China.

The group said that Aquino’s defense of access arrangements with the US will violate the Philippine constitution and will transform the country into a “de facto military base” even without a formal basing treaty. It said that other facilities outside of the former US bases in Clark and Subic may also be opened for US access, thus making the scope of US military presence extend nationwide.

“Aquino is an out and out American stooge who tows the line of the US. He promotes US interests instead of protecting our national interest. He thinks foreign policy is like a video game that can be reset when something goes wrong,” Reyes said.

Stand with Snowden

Meanwhile, Bayan also offered solidarity with American whistleblower Edward Snowden who is being pursued by US authorities after leaking the massive National Security Agency surveillance program known as PRISM. Snowden remains in a transit area of a Moscow airport after the US cancelled his passport. He has applied for asylum in several countries including Ecuador and Venezuela.

“On the occasion of Fil-Am Friendship Day, we reach out to and stand with Edward Snowden. Know that despite the difficult circumstances, you have friends in these islands, as well as Filipino friends in the US and many parts of the world. Know that we support your courageous act and are thankful for it,” Reyes said. ###

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Aquino slammed for defending US access arrangements

Posted on 03 July 2013 by admin

News Release

July 3, 2013

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today assailed President Benigno Aquino III for defending the proposed access arrangements for US and Japan troops using Philippine facilities. The group said that Aquino is “escalating tensions”  in the region based on the “false assumption that the US will automatically help the Philippines in any conflict”.

“The President must realize that crafting foreign policy is not like playing a video game where you can reset and restart after your character blows up. There is not reset button. The president continues to escalate tensions in the region by allowing US intervention, based on the erroneous assumption that the US is out to help us. Aquino is not upholding national interest because he’s giving China another reason to also escalate its activities,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“In defending the access arrangements for foreign troops, the President presents no new basis, no compelling nor coherent reason. He merely cites the need to conduct joint exercises and uses the word ‘interoperability’ with foreign troops as some catch-all justification without even explaining why. He makes it appear that access arrangements are but natural, without considering the full implications of such an arrangement. He ignores incidents like the Tubbataha grounding which up to now remains unresolved and our nearly half-century experience of abuses while hosting US bases,” he added.

The group said that Aquino was either naïve or lying when he says US presence will not be permanent. Bayan said that the current Visiting Forces Agreement does not provide any actual limit on the duration of stay of the US troops. “The US can easily circumvent our Constitution by rotating its forces, making it appear that a contingent is on PH soil temporarily, but the net effect would still be a permanent and continuing presence, 24/7, 365 days a year. Someone should tell the president this has already been done in Zamboanga since 2002,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that after hosting US bases for nearly half a century, the Armed Forces of the Philippines still was not able to modernize. What happened it said was that the Philippines was used as a staging ground for US wars in countries like Vietnam and Korea, as well as in Iraq during the first Gulf War. The group said access arrangements will be no different as this is taking place under the US pivot towards Asia.

“The assertions of Aquino and Defense Secretary Gazmin that US exercises will make us better prepared for conflict has no factual basis. We have been a treaty partner of the US for more than 60 years yet our armed forces have not modernized or developed. Why? Because it is in the interest of the US to keep our armed forces underdeveloped and backward so that the US can leverage this when making demands such as the use of our facilities,” Reyes said.

Bayan also questioned Aquino’s inclusion of Japan as among those countries to be given access to Philippine bases, saying that the Philippines has not existing military agreement with the nation. “We have not treaty with Japan so why is Aquino offering access arrangements for their troops?” the group said.

“We should all ask why the US is seeking greater access to our facilities. It is not because they are interested in securing our national interest. It’s because they are out to promote their own imperialist interests in the region as part of the US pivot to Asia. We should all disabuse ourselves from the notion that US and PH interests are identical,” Reyes said.

“What Aquino is showing is mendicancy in terms of foreign policy. He should stop toying with national interest and national sovereignty,” he added. ###

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