With the recent action of the Duterte regime informing the US government of its intention to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), it is incumbent on the Filipino people to press for the complete abrogation of the treaty and other demands in line with upholding national sovereignty.
The act of signing the notice of termination last February 11 corresponds to the long-standing demand of the Filipino people to end the VFA. This, however, is only the first step. Thus, it has become urgent for them to unite, raise their collective voices in order to see the end of the oppressive treaty.
In the next 180 days, or until the termination of the VFA completely takes effect, the Filipino people must:
firmly oppose any move to take back the notice of termination, renegotiate the treaty, or negotiate a new agreement that allows US military forces to maintain permanent presence in the country;
demand that all US military vessels in the country be subjected to inspection to ensure that these do not carry nuclear weapons;
demand that all US military personnel who committed crimes in the country and who have been convicted by local courts, but who remain under US custody because of the VFA, be remanded to Philippine jails and place under Philippine jurisdiction;
demand the cancellation of the Balikatan 2020 war games and all other military exercises (319 slated for 2020) conducted by US military forces under VFA terms;
demand the scrapping of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 2015 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement;
call for an end to the Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines under which the US military has heightened military interventionism in the country in the guise of “anti-terrorism;”
call for the dismantling of all US military facilities established prior to and under EDCA including those at the Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro), Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), Basa Air Base (Pampanga), Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija), Benito Ebuen Air Base (Mactan, Cebu), Camp Navarro (Zamboanga City), Camp Ranao (Marawi City) and PNP Academy (Cavite);
demand the withdrawal of all US military forces stationed in the country and an end to their rotational presence;
call for an end to the operation of US surveillance planes and drones, including those conducted by such private contractors as the Dyne Corporation; and
call for an end to US military funding which supplies the Duterte regime with bombs, rockets and bullets that are used in armed suppression and perpetration of rights abuses.
The Filipino people demand the abrogation of the VFA and all other treaties because these give US military forces extraterritorial rights and almost unrestricted access to operate in the country. Military exercises conducted by the US military in the country are used to tighten its control over the AFP. It aims to use the local armed forces as an appendage in its effort to project US hegemonic power in the Asia-Pacific region.
The country’s military ties to the US are not a deterrent to, but rather a magnet that attracts the aggression of Chinese military forces and all other present and future enemies of the US. Bound to the US by these treaties, the Philippines could not exercise an independent foreign policy.
The AFP’s dependence on the US for military hardware, training and doctrinal orientation, is among the biggest stumbling block to attaining a just and lasting peace. Under US influence and control, counterinsurgency, has become the primordial concern of the AFP and the reactionary Philippine government instead of the defense of the country’s sovereignty. Indeed, counterinsurgency is big business for the US military-industrial capitalists.
The Filipino people are aware that Duterte has been citing all the wrong reasons for his public pronouncements surrounding his act of giving the US notice of terminating the VFA. His threats to end the treaty are hinged on self-serving political aims.
It is his response to overt political pressure by the US Senate which has criticized the detention of Duterte critic Sen. Leila de Lima. Duterte is crying “US interference” only because he does not want to be censured for not playing fair with the other pro-US political elite groups.
He has also publicly vented frustration over what he regards as insufficient military support for the AFP in its counterinsurgency drive. He is begging the US for more attack helicopters, armalites, bombs, fighter jets, drones and other war toys.
Duterte’s self-serving and myopic aims indicate that his act of serving notice to terminate the VFA are not geared towards ending more than half-a-century long neocolonial rule by the US imperialists. He will likely be easily placated. Or he can be made to straighten up by Trump or by his own pro-US military officers.
The patriotic Filipino people, however, will not be pacified in their demand to scrap the VFA and other lopsided military treaties with the US. They will resiliently advance their struggle to end US imperialist oppression and achieve genuine national freedom.