A group of analysts including a former National Defense Security adviser have rejected proposals to set up five new American military facilities in the Philippines under the bilateral Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries.
The consensus emerged during Monday’s Pandesal Forum at Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City.
The discussants included former National Security adviser Gen. Victor Corpus, former Education Secretary and Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP) founder Butch Valdes, Philippines Asian Century Strategic Studies (PACSS) vice-president Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy, PACSS president Herman Laurel and economist Wilson Lee Flores.
The group called on the government and civil society groups to reject the proposal for five new US facilities in the Philippines.
Corpus and Valdes warned of national security dangers in allowing American military facilities in the Philippines, especially since the US has on-going geopolitics rivalries with other countries like China, Russia and North Korea which now have missile capabilities to strike at American military facilities.
Corpus, Valdez, and Malindog-Uy pointed out that Taiwan which is closest to the Philippines is “a possible flashpoint of superpowers conflict.”
They said the Philippine economy needs long-term stability and peace in Asean region, not heightened tensions.
Corpus warned of the Philippines becoming a Ukraine-like pawn of the U.S. in its rivalry with China or other countries.
For his part, Valdes said the country is not a possible pawn but “is in danger of becoming a huge American military base due to all the EDCA facilities nationwide.”
Laurel echoed the view of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who said the Visiting Forces Agreement and EDCA were illegal and violate the Philippine Constitution’s ban on foreign military presence in the country.
Valdes said that the Philippines and Asean should uphold a non-aligned stance and help keep regional peace.
Flores said that the country should focus on inviting the U.S., Japan, and China to invest in new industrial estates here in the Philippines, beef up our own self-defense military capabilities and depend on foreign military promises, instead of allowing USA request for five more new EDCA military bases, instead of Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for Japanese military forces to come here and instead allowing controversial POGO online gaming operations from outlawed businessmen from China.
Flores said other Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia have successfully invited numerous factories from China, USA and Japan, but not allowing their military facilities or forces.
Flores also said the Philippines should emulate the successful neutrality of affluent Switzerland, the Swiss do not allow foreign military bases or even transit or visiting forces. Flores said: “Let us make the Philippines into the Switzerland of Asia and not into a possible Ukraine of Asia”.