Statement on increased U.S. military presence in the Philippines

ANAKBAYAN Toronto joins the broad mass-based organizations under the waving banner of BAYAN-Canada in saying, “No to the blatant  United States military interference in the Asia-Pacific; stop the overstaying of U.S. troops in the Philippines now!”

The Philippine government, along with the corporate media, flags the renewed escalation of military presence in the country. On January 3, 2012, U.S. President Barrack Obama announced further interest in keeping the balance of power in Asia under the pretext of freedom and and economic prosperity to humanity in the Pentagon’s document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.

Illustration by Pol Medina, Jr. from Ink & Politics

The U.S. is trying harder to improve its image and prove to the world that it is engaged in maintaining a sustainable international order. This, it appears, is being driven by the growing economic importance of India and China, together with the latter’s burgeoning threat of military clout in the region, particularly in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The U.S. mouths to the world its responsibility to the freedom of navigation in the disputed waters recognizing mutual protection for natural resources.

The imperialist power asserts its forward posture, underneath the equation of war against terror, with its national interest for economic gains in the region. This brings the U.S. forces in a provocative stance through the expansion of military exercises with its regional puppets: such as Tandem Thrust, with Australia; Cobra Gold 2012, with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia; and Balikatan, with the Philippines.

The Philippine government claims the stationing of additional U.S. troops is not for the re-establishment of military bases. The U.S. maintained two large military bases in the Philippines but was forced to abandon them in 1992 after the Philippine Senate voted down to end their setup in the country. However, there is no let-up in Washington’s aggression since the Philippine-American War of 1899. Over a century of U.S. geopolitical engagement left the Philippines fully absorbed in internal security threats posed by underdevelopment and dependence on external defense. For the longest time, the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 which has been in effect to conduct military-to-military ties and training, has not led to the Philippine’s defense modernization. The onerous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of 1999 effectively hoodwinked the nation of allowing soldiers to stay indefinitely in the Philippines. A force of about 600 American soldiers has been rotating the country for the past decade. As a result, indiscriminate killings, rape and other sexual offenses, massive displacement of rural communities, waste, disease, and other forms of human rights abuses have been directly implicated with these military deployments.

The lessons of the past need to be learnt. Such security policy choices cannot take away our eyes off the profit system as the genuine root cause of the problem. We echo the call for a peaceful resolution of all regional territorial disputes and vehemently oppose the use or threat of force from any party including China. We need to show our solidarity with the people by joining every action protesting this undue risk of aggressive projection. We must stand up and demand immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Philippines.

Junk VFA!
Junk the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty!
Bring home all US troops stationed everywhere in the world!
U.S. troops out of the Philippines now!

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