“Taken for a ride” in the SCS
By Erick San Juan
After seven months since the PNoy administration reorganizes the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) there are still no concrete actions (so far) as to the status of the so-called review. And now the Palace, through its spokesperson Edwin Lacierda came out with a statement that the Commission is now reviewing the “jurisdiction” aspect of the said agreement. Meaning this jurisdiction aspect review is just a reaction to the call of Rep. Erin Tanada to terminate the VFA who is a Liberal Party member where the Chairman is the President himself.
Just recently, House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III calls for the termination of the RP-US agreement through the proposed joint congressional resolution. This should post concern to the administration because Rep. Tanada is also an LP member meaning the call for the VFA termination is beyond party affiliation.
On the latter part of last year, Sen. Miriam Santiago also filed the Senate Resolution to amend/abrogate the VFA. For twelve years since the Senate ratified the VFA, it seems that it was more for the benefit of Uncle Sam than to the Filipinos.
It was also in November of last year when Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr., chairman of the presidential commission on the VFA defended the VFA before the legislative oversight committee on the visiting forces agreement (LOVFA). He said that “Our defense partnership with the US plays a vital role in enhancing Philippine national security, maintaining regional peace and stability and promoting economic development.”
Translation – this statement is pure “chubibo” (spin).
But if we will analyze the confluence of events in the South China Sea, it was repeatedly noted that Beijing is not comfortable with Washington’s insistence of meddling in the disputes among the claimants in the contested area. With the reported existence of a virtual US military base in the island of Balabac (via the VFA) near Palawan, near the Spratly islands, the aim of maintaining peace and stability in the region is a big farce. The sought after
peace in the region can never be achieved if there will be no transparency between and among the ASEAN members and China.
As for our national security vis-à-vis the country’s economic development, we can achieve this even without the VFA. It was actually a big paradox that the presence of the US troops in Mindanao for over a decade now through the VFA has brought more terrorists activities than before. It was supposed to curb such activities but after twelve years, its still the same.
It is high time to really have a genuine review of this Visiting Forces Agreement and analyze its benefits (if any). As I always say, we have been shortchanged with the secret dealings of this country’s past leaders, we just cannot afford another one. There is too much to give up – our sovereignty or what was still left of it, and a possible regional conflict and be a pawn to a proxy war that has been brewing for quite some time now.
The Joint Resolution filed by Rep. Erin Tanada is a wake up call on PNoy’s leadership to take a firm stand on the fate of the VFA for the true benefit of the country.
The rest of us must be vigilant as to what this comprehensive review will all lead us to or we will all be taken for a ride towards a war courtesy of our “friends”.
Why am I so "makulit" regarding this issue? Americans are our friends but just like any lover, we don't have to spoil them. They will level with us if we will be united and will have self respect. We still have patriots in the government service. I hope and pray that they will advocate a Philippines with leaders who will talk "turkey" with the imperialists and get what's due us. God save the Philippines!