In the face of increasing challenge from China, the US is ensuring its tight military ties with the Philippines will remain, as can be seen with the expected arrival of not less than 1,600 US troops for the 15th Pacific Partnership mission in Tacloban City from March 10 to 24, and Exercise Salaknib 2019 in Nueva Ecija from March 4 to 24, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today forewarned.
Spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas said these military exercises are couched as humanitarian and disaster relief operations that are followed by agreements that further entrench US military intervention in the host country’s soil. Such “disaster militarism” was the case when the US-GRP signed the Enhanced Cooperation and Defense Agreement after super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Philippines in 2013 and US-Indonesian military ties were fully restored post-Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. “This is assistance with strings attached, just like the EDCA that allowed the basing of US troops in the country, Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), and the Visiting Forces Agreement,” he remarked.
“The AFP is the mercenary of US imperialism and its most consolidated hold on the reactionary state in the Philippines that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte himself tacitly acknowledges,” Fr. Salas added. “Duterte indeed prostitutes himself to a US imperialist rival such as China by financially shackling the country through the corruption-ridden Build, Build, Build program. But he is well-aware that the AFP is beholden to US imperialism in indoctrination, training and arms, relying heavily on the billions of dollars worth of military assistance coursed through Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines to feed his vain effort to crush the revolutionary movement.
“In fact, GRP Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recent call for a review of the MDT was a call for a renewed offensive of US military interventionism in the Philippines, such as the upcoming exercises with the AFP, and not an assertion of sovereignty, equality and non-intervention,” noted Fr. Salas. “The MDT should be junked for foisting US imperialist interests on the Philippines by obligating the country to support the US in war, and surrendering national sovereignty by deferring to US support and intervention.”
But according to the NDF-EV spokesperson, “No pretenses by the US-Duterte regime – not even the return of the Balangiga bells – can save face for US imperialism that for more than a hundred years has waged real and proxy wars on our people, raped our women, massacred our communities, and occupied our territory as well as committed other violations of national sovereignty.”
Fr. Salas urged the people of Eastern Visayas to show their indignation against US military interventionism and mount protests to call for the pull-out of US troops in the Philippines. “Let us stand up for national sovereignty against US military interventionism and other imperialist intrusions such as by China in the West Philippine Sea. Let us demand the abrogation of the Mutual Defense Treaty, EDCA, VFA and other onerous and one-sided military agreements, and uphold the principles in foreign relations of national sovereignty, friendship and non-aggression.
“We must bring Duterte to account for selling out Philippine sovereignty to the US and China. Let us join and support the people’s war and wage armed struggle to defeat the AFP and its US imperialist master, overthrow the reactionary ruling system, and attain national freedom and democracy,” he ended.#