Ang Bayan
February 21, 2021

National freedom has no price tag

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The Filipino people were seriously disgusted by President Rodrigo Duterte’s February 12 speech where he declared “if America requires the presence of their troops here, I’m okay with that” under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)–as long as they pay with military weapons.

He said the US has not been paying enough, especially since it is already stockpiling weapons in the former Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Palawan. Malacañang insisted that the US must give the Philippines an amount equal to what it gives Pakistan, a country used by the US for its aggression, occupation and continued intervention in Afghanistan in one of its longest wars of conquest. It claims the Philippines should get enough since it will surely be drawn into a war between the US and China should one breaks out in the South China Sea.

Duterte treats the country’s sovereignty as a commodity: “it’s all about money” he declared in 2016. He ended his drama of “terminating the VFA” and claims of upholding an “independent foreign policy.” He has exposed his unabashed puppetry to the US. More guns and bombs is all he wanted all along.

Over the past years, Duterte pretended to be “angry” at the US even when in reality, he has done nothing to defend Philippine national sovereignty. He surrounded himself with US yes-men who perpetuated old pro-US policies, especially in the military and economy. He promised Trump in 2017 that he will end peace negotiations with the NDFP, crush the armed revolutionary movement and amend the constitution to give foreign capitalists full ownership rights over land, business and other Philippine resources. That same year, the US initiated Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPEP).

Duterte never questioned the lopsided military agreements including the Military Assistance Agreement (MAA), the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the VFA, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). These treaties bind the country’s foreign policy to the US and is the reason why it cannot be considered independent.

Duterte’s “angry at America” stance is a sham. He merely used this to show off to China, the imperialist rival of the US. In return, Duterte was promised tens of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure project grants for his cronies. Duterte and his cohorts strengthened ties with the Chinese drug and casino syndicates. On the mere promise of China, Duterte gave China the license to establish military facilities in seven artificial islands within Philippine territorial waters, lay claim to Bajo de Masinloc in violation of the 2016 decision of the International Arbitration Tribunal and drive away Filipino fishermen from their seas.

Duterte’s ties with China fully benefited a few big bourgeois compradors, bureaucrat capitalists as well as military officers. Some of them are keen to the growing economic and political strength of China. This was such a cause for concern for US imperialism that it is taking measures to ensure the support and loyalty of its followers in the country.

The new Biden government of the US aims to strengthen its control of the neocolonial state, mainly by tightening its grip on the AFP. This is in line with its plan to more aggressively defend US economic and geopolitical interests in the face of the growing strength of its rival China. While posing as “progressive” in domestic issues against the ultra-Right policies of the previous Trump government, Biden is also known to favor aggressive military posturing.

After speaking recently to the newly appointed US defense secretary, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana declared he and the military favor the continuation of the VFA. This was a clear message from the US that it will no longer tolerate Philippine rapport with China. It is now mobilizing its forces in the Philippines, inside and outside the ruling regime, to further strengthen and ensure its military, economic and political control of the Philippine ruling class.

Because of this, expect the pro-US politicians to intensify opposition to growing Chinese economic and political influence. The US may accommodate Duterte’s demand for “bigger payment” but only because this will also serve strategic US interests. On the other hand, expect also China to take measures to counter US influence by using both its economic and military might.

The Filipino people must stand up and denounce Duterte’s slavishness to the US and China, to the detriment of the country’s sovereignty and benefit of the economic and military interests of foreign imperialists. The people must assert that national freedom has no price tag. They must push for countries in Southeast Asia to defend their rights and the freedom in international waters against China’s expansionism.

They must demand for the complete abrogation of the VFA, EDCA, MDT, MLSA and other one-sided military agreements that give US military forces extraterritorial rights in the Philippines and trample on its national sovereignty. On the other hand, they must denounce the Duterte regime for kowtowing to China’s annexation of Philippine territories and plunder of the country’s natural resources.

The Party calls on the American people to censure the Biden government for aligning itself with the Duterte tyrannical regime in exchange for securing US geopolitical interests. The American and Filipino people must cooperate to fight US interventionism and support for the bloody war of suppression in the Philippines.

AB (2021-02-21): National freedom has no price tag