NDF-Ilocos: The Filipino people demands the termination of the VFA

Duterte threatened by US rebuff while mass movement advances against him

February 6’s Senate hearing about the long-demanded termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) left the Filipino people dissatisfied, if not unsurprised. Short of articulating their opposition to Rodrigo Duterte’s statement who supposedly pushes to end the VFA, the Upper Chamber’s deliberation of the issue ran along vague terms of ‘negative impact to US-Philippine ties’ but parrots that the decision rests on Duterte.

It thus becomes a waiting game. The Filipino people is anxious to see if an unjust bilateral military agreement that has undermined Philippine sovereignty and independence for 21 years will be terminated at the whim of an unhinged president and his favourite lapdog Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa. Or will Duterte use the Senate’s ambivalence as an excuse to renegade on a declared change on major foreign policy?

Wrong and Right Reasons

It started with a sad Bato whose US visa was cancelled. Duterte then threatened to terminate the VFA if the issue was not corrected within a month.

But the struggle to abrogate the VFA, along with its annexations Mutual Defense Treaty and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, actually started the moment it was passed. It is a primary indication of neocolonialism where imperialist powers do not directly inhabit a weaker nation but still subjugates it through political and economic intervention, military affairs included.

Since the VFA was passed in August 1998, various mass organizations have opposed it because it allows the US military to bring in nuclear weapons. Such results in greater risk of war involvement and far greater damage during wartime. It also exempts US forces from taxes and tariffs while clearing American personnel from criminal liability. Both Lance Corporals Daniel Smith and Joseph Pemberton of the US Marines were tried in the country for raping Filipino individuals only due to the public pressure led by anti-imperialist organizations. They were also both found guilty but avoided serving their sentences in any Philippine correctional facility because of the VFA. These are the most valid of reasons why the Filipino people oppose the VFA and campaign for its cessation.

Advancing Mass Movement

It might seem like Duterte’s most recent outburst is just another item from his long list of arbitrary orders given verbally. Yet, upon closer analysis, Duterte and his minions do need to worry. It is assumed that the US government applied the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against Bato. This is a US law sanctioning foreign government officials implicated in extensive violations by barring them entrance and freezing their US assets. Bato could be just the first among a string of officials, Duterte included, who would experience the omnipresent Big Brother’s display of power and control. It is no wonder that the megalomaniac Duterte is antagonized and irked.

This also corresponds to the growing infamy of Duterte and his administration. The US government is known to withdraw support from its puppets when the latter becomes irrevocably unpopular amongst the people. The organized mass movement against the present regime is steadily rising and expanding and the threat of an ouster is almost palpable.

All organizations and forces under the National Democratic Front – Ilocos must intensify the people’s struggle not just against the VFA and all unfair agreements but also against all forms of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Every allied organization in the united front is expected to contribute to the further weakening of this despotic but desperate regime. Link regional and sectoral issues to the most urgent national issues now gripping the Filipino people. Support the escalation of the armed revolution in the countryside. The sound of thousands chanting and marching in the streets must reverberate with the sound of the revolutionary army’s winning gunfire against the military troops of this isolated regime. ###