The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today called on the Philippine government not to allow the country to be used by the United States in its attempt to strengthen its dominance in Asia. The call came after the US announced it would be stationing more troops in the Philippines to counter the alleged threats from China. The Chinese government has called for peace and stability in the region but state newspaper Global Times has called for sanctions against the Philippine government.

“While we may not agree with the call to punish the Philippines, we must also point out that the US military does pose a threat to regional peace. If we think China has tendencies to impose its power in the region, the same can certainly be said of the US which is an even bigger bully. The US wants to encircle China and counter North Korea because they are not wholly subservient to the US,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We support a peaceful resolution of all maritime and territorial disputes in the region and vehemently oppose the use or threat of force from any party including China. However, once the US military is involved, the disputes will become even more complicated and tensions will rise. The US only cares for its own hegemonic interests and is merely exploiting the weakness of the Philippine government,” Reyes added.

Bayan also criticized the Philippine government’s inconsistent reasoning for allowing additional US troop deployment in the country. Initially, the Philippine government said that the added deployment was meant to counter China. It later backtracked and said that the deployment was aimed at modernizing the AFP, with or without the ongoing disputes in the region.

“The Philippine government is mistaken on both counts. If the reason is to counter China, then this undermines the prospect of a peaceful resolution of the disputes. If the reason is modernizing the AFP, we don’t see how this could happen if all we are getting are Excess Defense Articles from the US. We have a Mutual Defense Treaty with the US which has been in effect for 60 years but has not led to the modernization of the AFP,” Reyes said.

Disclose results of VFA review

Bayan called on the Aquino administration to officially disclose the results of the review it conducted on the Visiting Forces Agreement before entering into any negotiations for additional US troops in the country.

“The Aquino government pledged to review the VFA and from the information we received from various sources, the review has been concluded, yet no results have been made public. We have not addressed the problems of the VFA yet here is the Aquino government asking for more US troops to be stationed in the country. Where is the national interest in that?” Reyes asked.

“How can the Philippine government justify more US troops when the outstanding problems such as the custody of erring or convicted US soldiers and their permanent stationing in the country are not even discussed?” he added. ###