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. ###