The group Makabansang Alyansa (Makabansa) on Sunday again called on the government to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), saying this would prove the Philippines’ real independence as the country celebrated its 123rd year as a nation on June 12.
“Philippine independence means no more VFA and EDCA,” the group’s secretary general Mati Songca said in a statement.
Makabansa also commemorated 30 years since the Philippines ended its military bases agreement with the United States by praising the 12 senators who voted to reject the renewal of the treaty in 1991.
“This year let us not forget the heroic deeds of the 12 magnificent senators who junked the US Military Bases Agreement of 1991. It’s been 30 years since 12 glorious and magnificent senators bravely challenged the US military presence in our country. Let their heroic deeds be remembered in our annals of history,” the group added.
They lauded then-Senator Joseph Estrada – who would later become President – and fellow lawmakers Jovito Salonga, Juan Ponce Enrile, Rene Saguisag, Lorenzo Tanada, Ernesto Maceda, Orly Mercado, Victor Ziga, Butz Aquino, Teofisto Guingona, and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. for voting to reject the renewal of the 1947 US bases treaty.
“As we celebrate the country’s 123rd independence, there are still doubts and apprehension if we really attained it. Various political interventions and mockery of our sovereignty are still being experienced,” Makabansa said.
They called on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to permanently abrogate the “one-sided treaties that only best serve the interests of the United States of America.”
“We firmly believe that they are erroneous and one-sided and do not serve the interest of the nation,” the group added, noting that last year Duterte threatened to junk the VFA unless some supposed one-sided provisions could be corrected.
One such provision, Makabansa said, is the Philippine jurisdiction on criminal acts perpetrated by visiting US military personnel.
“The conduct of military exercise in the entire archipelago without any territorial limitations is a clear violation of the constitutional provision on territorial sovereignty,” they said.
The EDCA, Makabansa added, allows the basing of US military personnel in the entire country, “which is a violation of our independence and the 1987 Constitution itself.”
“Giving unlimited access to the use of our lands, air and sea water territories is an invitation for future conflict with our neighboring countries. It is also a flashpoint of future global conflict, which we are now experiencing,” they said.
“We firmly believe that the Philippines should not exercise a bilateral relationship with the US and develop a foreign policy of multilateral relationship. Equal and fair agreements with all our neighbors in Asia and the entire regions as far as Russia — that’s the only way we can say we are truly independent and sovereign with the respect of other countries,” Makabansa said.