PNoy’s “More of the Same” Means More Hostility, Poverty, Human Rights Violations

Press Release
March 26, 2012
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

PNoy’s “More of the Same” Means More Global Hostility, Poverty, Human Rights Violations in the Philippines

“Spain sold the Philippines to the US for $20 million, but PNoy is selling the Philippines to the US for some used F-16s. Simply put: he’s a sell-out.”

This was the reaction of the Filipino-American alliance BAYAN-USA to Philippines President Benigno Aquino III’s pronouncement that more US troops would be welcome in the Philippines and that he was “hoping” the US would grant his request for excess F-16 fighter jets.

A Sell-Out to the Interests of the 1%
BAYAN-USA criticized Aquino’s continuing efforts to accommodate the 2012 US defense strategy that entails a so-called “rebalance to Asia,” including an increase in US military presence in the Philippines. The Secretaries of State and Defense of the US and Philippines are set to negotiate terms of the increased military deployment on April 30 in Washington DC. “Instead of protecting the nation’s sovereignty and the Filipino people, PNoy says he wants ‘more of the same’ when it comes to US troop deployment and port calls of US vessels to the Philippines.  If Aquino promotes this ‘more of the same’ position in the negotiations with the US, it will mean more instability, more human rights violations and more regional insecurity,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA chair.

“F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin raked in $464,990,000,000 last year—obviously the big winners of ‘more of the same’ are the corporate military titans and the other members of the 1% that they are protecting, such as oil and mining multi-nationals with major economic investments in the region,” continued Ellorin. “Neither Americans nor Filipinos benefit from the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent each year on war mongering, since those are funds that are being diverted away from education, healthcare, housing and employment that the 99% need the most.”

Cop-Outs to Justify US Intervention
Preceding the negotiations, from April 16-27 the military exercises called Balikatan (“shoulder-to-shoulder”) will be held in the Philippines; for the first time, the exercises will be multilateral involving Japan, South Korea and Australia, as well as the Philippines and over 4,000 US troops.  BAYAN-USA looks with suspicion on the multilateral exercises, especially in light of the secrecy cloaking the US-Philippine military negotiations, Aquino’s allowance of the American military’s storage of nuclear weapons on Philippine soil and use of drones in Philippine airspace, the US’ posturing against rising economic power China, and provocative statements against North Korea.

“For Aquino to say that the purpose of the Balikatan exercises is to increase disaster preparedness, strengthen the Philippine military against possible aggression by China or fallout from North Korea’s rocket tests, and foster regional cooperation is a cop-out,” said Ellorin. “The exercises are obviously being used to consolidate American military power and its alliances with countries in the Asia Pacific who will allow the US to usher in new bases and thousands of foreign troops in addition to the 660 US troops already operating in Mindanao. The US has made no secret of its plans to station and rotate thousands of US troops in Asia to put China and North Korea in check, so Aquino should stop trying to hide his acquiescence to US intervention.”

BAYAN-USA also pointed out that the notoriously one-sided Visiting Forces Agreement, which currently governs the terms of the presence of US military personnel in the Philippines, has done nothing to protect Filipinos or Philippine sovereignty.  In an address to the Philippines House of Representatives on Feb. 8 this year, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Illagan stated, “Since the VFA was approved in 1999, several violations of US soldiers have been reported. These include the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal by American soldier Reggie Lane in Basilan in 2002, the closing of the Panamao District Hospital in Sulu allegedly ordered by US soldiers led by a Master Sergeant Ron Berg in 2007. We have witnessed injustice with the acquittal of the [rapist] Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith after an obvious manipulation between the Philippine and US governments. Yet again in 2009, a 21-year old Filipina came forward after having been raped by a US military personnel from Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG)/ Balikatan. These are just the reported cases and probably many more remain hidden from public’s knowledge.”

“What makes Aquino’s excuses even worse is that US troops are already getting away with these transgressions even under the few restrictions presently contained in the Visiting Forces Agreement.  We can predict that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will try to gain even more concessions when they negotiate new terms of agreement with the Philippines next month.  Aquino’s current statements are foreshadowing what will be negotiated during these talks—an eradication of any protections whatsoever for Philippine sovereignty,” said Ellorin.

All-Out for Days of Action Against US Intervention
As Filipinos in the US, BAYAN-USA members experience everyday how both the Aquino and Obama governments– guardians of financial oligarchy– are acting in betrayal of the broad interest of the Filipino and American peoples. We are among the poor who were driven out of the Philippines under Aquino’s and his predecessors’ failed economic policies and forced to move abroad.  We are among the working people in the US forced to carry the heavy burden of paying for a trillion dollar debt crisis we did not create.  And we are part of the peoples resistance to these intolerable conditions, forging solidarity among people in the US struggling against the US military-industrial complex and for economic justice, the Filipino people’s ongoing struggle for genuine national independence and democracy, and people worldwide advancing movements for self-determination. BAYAN-USA calls on all people who believe in peace and justice to participate in the International Day of Action Against US Intervention on April 16 and protests against the high-level Philippines-US talks on April 30. Peoples resistance and firm solidarity are the key to frustrate US interventionism in the region!

US OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! – US OUT OF ASIA! – JUNK THE US-RP MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY! – JUNK THE US-RP VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT! –
UPHOLD PHILIPPINE NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY! – LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY! – ALL OUT ON APRIL 16 AND APRIL 30!