|By Jessica Antonio. From email from Banyan USA.
“The military hawks in the Aquino regime argue that bringing in the U.S. is the silver bullet to defend the Philippines from territorial incursions by China. In reality, the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation is a silver platter which hands over Philippine sovereignty to the U.S.,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin in response to news that the U.S. and Philippines would sign the new agreement on April 28 prior to President Obama’s arrival in the Philippines. Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg are poised to sign the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation at 10 AM on April 28, just a few hours prior to the arrival of President Obama.
In an interview with the Associated Press regarding the meeting of Presidents Aquino and Obama on Monday, Philippines Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said “President Aquino will convey the country’s vision for an enduring and strategic Philippine-US partnership that will be characterized by modern, mature and forward-looking bilateral relations,” centering on “three major fronts: strengthening political and security cooperation, expanding trade and investments, tourism and development cooperation, and deepening people-to-people ties.”
Clearly, Aquino’s “vision” is looking out for the interests of the elite. Strengthening political and security cooperation means shoring up the subservient relationship between Aquino and Obama, and beefing up the US military presence in the country with the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation. Expanding trade and investments means changing the Philippine Constitution to allow the country to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so that foreign multi-national corporations can enjoy 100% ownership rights of Philippine industries. Tourism and development cooperation means sacrificing long-term, genuine national industrialization for the short-term profits of destructive foreign-owned mining and agribusiness corporations. Deepening people-to-people ties means the Aquinos, Cojuancos, Macapagals and other elite families getting cozy with the American 1%. This is a recipe for continued subservience to US imperialism’s current neoliberal economic agenda. It is a recipe for deepening poverty, joblessness and environmental degradation of the Philippines.
BAYAN-USA joins the chorus of protest to the new AEDC. A Statement of Concern on the US-PH Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation was issued on April 27, signed by Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. along with former Senators and other distinguished defenders of peace and Philippine sovereignty. The statement contends that “The agreement apparently aims to increase and prolong the presence US troops in the country, and as government has already announced, allow the US access to Philippine bases, the prepositioning of US arms, military supplies and equipment as well as the construction and maintenance of US military facilities inside these Philippine bases…
The AEDC as reported by media threatens to reverse the historic Senate vote that removed the US bases in 1991.”
In anticipation of President Obama’s visit to the Philippines, BAYAN-USA conducted protest actions in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco to project its opposition to U.S. imperialism’s “triple-threat” military, economic and political assault on the people of the Philippines and the Asia Pacific region. Over 100 people including other Asian Americans and peace activists joined BAYAN-USA in the protests, citing the U.S. military “pivot” to the Asia Pacific and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as a double-edged sword that would foment tensions and deepen poverty in the region.
“The AEDC will backfire on the US-Aquino regime, because it will compel the Filipino people and all people who believe in true peace and justice to protest louder, longer and in larger numbers than ever before. This maneuver for renewed U.S. colonial occupation will ultimately fail, because it will recruit more people to join the national democratic movement,” said Ellorin.
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org