Protests greet Obama in Manila,
BAYAN slams treachery in signing of defense pact


April 28,  2014





Photos courtesy of  Southern Tagalog Exposure and Karl Ramirez


Statement of concern on the RP-US Agreement on Enhanced Security Cooperation (AEDC)

We express our grave concern over news that a new military agreement called the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) will be signed between the Philippines and the United States during next week's visit of US President Barack Obama.

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.

Given these apparently new features, there is valid concern that the new pact may be going beyond the scope of previous military agreements. That contrary to the negotiators’ claims, this is not a mere implementing agreement of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement nor the periodic arrangements on mutual logistics and support. The AEDC as reported by media threatens to reverse the historic Senate vote that removed the US bases in 1991.

We are apprehensive that until now, no copy of the agreement has been provided to the public. Even Congress, particularly the Senate, has been kept in the dark. Only general statements and blanket assurances from Philippine and US officials that the AEDC will adhere to the Philippine Constitution have been issued. There is no official venue for public discussion and debate.

Just as we decry the lack of transparency in the crafting of the AEDC, so do we oppose the rush to have the deal signed in time for the Obama visit. We insist that such an agreement should undergo thorough and extensive deliberations by the Senate as well as wide-ranging public discussion

We call on our people to be vigilant, defend and uphold Philippine sovereignty, whether against China's incursions or the United States of America's increased military presence in Philippine territory.#


Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr.
Senator Rene Saguisag (MABINI)
Senator WigbertoTañada
Mother Mary John Mananzan, OSB
Dean Pacifico Agabin
Atty. Ricardo N. Fernandez
Atty. Hesiquio Mallilin
Atty. Fulgencio Factoran
Atty. Nelson Loyola
Atty. EvalynUrsua
Atty. Harry Roque
Atty. Carlos Montemayor, Jr.
Prof. Roland Simbulan
Ms. Maria Socorro I. Diokno
Ms. BibethOrteza
Dr. Carol Araullo
Renato Constantino Jr.




By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
April 22, 2014

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle views the upcoming visits of United States President Barack Obama to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines from April 23 to 29 as part of the US imperialist objective of further entrenching its hegemony and imposing its neo-liberal agenda while undermining the sovereignty and coveting the patrimony of countries in the region, in line with its avowed “strategic pivot” to Asia.

The US “pivot to Asia” is a multi-pronged offensive that includes the further deployment or “rebalancing” of US military forces and military bases into the region, the drive to forge a long-sought Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and the consolidation and expansion of its strategic alliances with selected countries in the region. These objectives are part of the long-term efforts of US imperialism to advance its economic, political and military interests and reassert its preeminent power in the region.

The renewed US focus on Asia, highlighted since late 2011 by a series of policy statements and positions in various summits and country visits by top US officials and considered a cornerstone of current US foreign policy, will be further pushed by Obama in his upcoming four-country visit. He is expected to advance or finalize a number of multilateral agreements when he visits Japan from April 23 to 24, South Korea from Apr 25 to 26, Malaysia from April 26 to 28, and the Philippines from April 28 to 29.

Obama’s Asian swing has particular urgency especially in light of China’s steady rise as a major regional capitalist power while the US has had its hands full elsewhere. He had cancelled scheduled trips to Asia twice already, once in 2010 and more recently in October 2013 due to the US fiscal crisis. The US imperialist chieftain is determined this time to erase any doubt about the seriousness of the US pivot to Asia despite its growing problems on the domestic front and its worsening troubles on a global scale, especially in the Middle East and the Eurasian belt.

US military ‘rebalancing’

The ILPS reiterates the urgency of exposing and opposing the strategic scheme and maneuvers of US imperialism to strengthen its military bases, escalate its military intervention, and consolidate its geopolitical alliances in East Asia under the flag of “re-balance” or “pivot” to Asia.

The US is currently building new military bases in Japan, South Korea and Guam, pushing to deploy an increasing number of troops as well as preposition war materiel in Australia and the Philippines, and plans to move 60% of its warships to Asia by 2020.

To this end, the US is aggressively seeking or renewing basing opportunities, access agreements, mutual defense pacts, and bilateral and multilateral military exercises in the region. It is pushing its treaty allies such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia to host an increasing number of US troops as well as naval and air force assets on a so-called “rotational” but effectively permanent basis.

Faced with its own fiscal crisis aggravated by huge military expenditures due to its self-appointed role as global cop, the US now wants host countries not only to provide land for new bases and access to existing bases, but also to impose on them the burden of paying for base construction and maintenance, accommodation of troops, environmental degradation, and other social costs. These other costs that typically come with foreign bases and foreign troops include worsened prostitution of women and children, drug trafficking, other vices in the name of troop “rest and recreation,” abandoned Amerasian children, and violent crimes including rape and murder.

The strategic military, political, and economic objectives of the US pivot to Asia are stated in Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, a Department of Defense strategic guidance document. The US seeks to dominate strategic sea lanes and control the sources and flow of strategic resources such as oil in this vast global region. At the same time, it wants to use this tremendous clout to force countries to accede to neoliberal economic dictates, and to impose a virtual embargo on countries that may resist such dictates and assert their own national interests.

On the TPPA

The US is desperate to finalize as soon as possible a multilateral consensus with 11 other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), if only to mitigate its own imperialist economic and financial crisis. As designed and dominated by the US, this comprehensive trade agreement would encompass 40 percent of the world’s GDP and would include countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Canada, Mexico and Peru. Notably, the TPP talks have excluded China for now although Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice recently said the US will “welcome any nation” to join the pact.

While the trade pact’s details have largely been kept secret from the public, a recent draft revealed by Wikileaks has triggered controversies even among some Western policymakers and US allies, who question clauses that favor US monopoly control and undermine governmental processes. The TPPA’s main provisions are expected to require member-countries to remove any remaining barriers to investments, to strictly enforce intellectual property laws that would raise pharmaceutical costs and stifle digital innovation and freedom of expression, and to allow private corporations to sue states before an international tribunal. In effect, countries joining the TPPA will have to surrender big chunks of their national sovereignty to the trade pact’s imperialist masterminds.

US-China relations as key issue

China has become the single biggest factor in the US imperialist agenda in East Asia. Despite its own internal problems, China is fast rising as a regional power, with a growing capacity to project its power in the rest of Asia and beyond. While the US eyes China as a potential long-term rival, the two capitalist powers remain in an uneasy partnership, comprising trade and investment ties, on top of some USD 1.28 trillion in US debt to China. The collusion and contention of the US and China operates not just in East Asia but throughout the world. The BRICS, in which China is a stalwart, provides a counterpoint to the US in certain respects, but it also promotes the US-instigated neoliberal policy in many other respects.

Obama’s forthcoming trip to Asia does not include a visit to China. However, a basic premise of the US agenda is to further contain China’s ambitions as a regional power, pressure it to keep within the present limits of the US-China partnership, and more strictly hew to the neoliberal framework. The US imperialists are further pushing China to further dismantle its state enterprises so that Western multinationals can more freely exploit its vast market and cheap labor.

The US is wary of China’s inclusion of the South China Sea as among its “core interests”; its fast-rising military capability to project its own “String of Pearls” maritime strategy in the Asia-Pacific and South Asia-Indian Ocean; its use of “soft power” and various diplomatic initiatives in its expansion of trade, investment and aid in and outside the region; and its growing alliance with Russia at the core of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). These moves, directly or indirectly, pose a counterpoint to the US strategic pivot to Asia.

Despite China’s territorial disputes with neighboring countries over islands islets, reefs and rocks in the East China Sea and South China Sea, it maintains a good leverage including strong bilateral ties with Cambodia, Laos, and Sri Lanka; a standing offer of “joint exploitation of the South China Sea for mutual benefit” directed at the Philippines and Vietnam; and the potential for a China-ASEAN FTA and a China-South Korea-Japan FTA as its counter-balance against the US-led TPPA.

The US exploits territorial disputes involving China and its neighbors such as Japan, South Korea, and some ASEAN countries. It pretends to help these countries against China as a pretext in expanding US military forces and operating military bases in these countries. But the US interest is not in supporting territorial claims in the South China Sea, but in gaining control of the sea lanes. The US would not risk open war with China in the near future as the US has far greater economic interests there compared to countries like the Philippines or Vietnam.

Russia, Japan, and China also view the vast territories covering the East China Sea and South China Sea as strategic in terms of natural resources, shipping, and military access. For now, all the big powers collude and compete for a bigger share of the Asia-Pacific pie without resort to war, although they beat their war drums to signal a readiness to escalate conflict whenever it fits their strategic plans.

Specific agenda in the four country visits

On April 23, Obama is scheduled to attend the Japan-US summit to affirm the two countries’ military and economic alliance. Even as it has been in the economic and political doldrums in recent decades, Japan hosts a wide range of US military bases, serves as its second largest trade and investment partner, and has long been the main US ally in the post-war Asia-Pacific. The Obama visit intends to enhance the US-Japan military and economic alliance.

A few days before Obama lands, on April 20, a new US military installation will be inaugurated in Ukawa district, Kyotango City, Kyoto. An X-band radar facility will be installed as an essential part of the US Missile Defense network in East Asia, in connivance with the Japanese government.

Despite the transfer of a big US Marine contingent to Guam and the unresolved relocation of the sprawling Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to Nago City, the US continues to enjoy strategic basing rights in Japan. Some 49,000 US troops are deployed in Japan-hosted bases, through which the US is able to project its imperialist power in East Asia, encircle China, and threaten the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

The TPPA is also on the agenda of the Japan-US summit. The US wants Japan to join the trade pact as a crucial member, but it must convince Japanese big business that the TPPA has more advantages for them compared to a more localized trade pact such as a China-Korea-Japan FTA. The US also wants Japan to settle its disputes with South Korea.

In Seoul, Obama is expected to meet with South Korean President Park Geun Hye, affirm the US military alliance with South Korea, and review the continuing US-led program of economic, political, and military pressure against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Despite calls from both sides to move towards peaceful reunification, the US has refused to defuse tensions by continuing to maintain a heavy military presence of 30,000 troops in the peninsula (including nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction), instigate repeated armed provocations along the so-called demilitarized zone and through offshore naval exercises, and seek to isolate North Korea by focusing on the DPRK’s nuclear program and imposing sanctions.

Despite strong opposition from the Korean people, the US is preparing to use a military base being constructed by the Korean government in Jeju Island near its border with China.

Next, Obama will visit Malaysia as the first US president to do so in the past half-century, to make another pitch for the TPPA. Past Malaysian governments, with strong Islamic influence especially during the premiership of Mahathir Mohammad, had been critical of US foreign policy, opposed US wars in the Middle East, and supported the setting up of a Palestinian state. Obama intends to sweeten US-Malaysia bilateral ties by offering economic advantages to the Najib Razak government in exchange for keeping to a moderate and pro-US Islamic position.

Obama’s last stop will be the Philippines, a former US colony that hosted a major US Air Force base in Clark and a major US Navy station in Subic, and a long-time postwar ally under successive pro-US regimes. He is expected to meet with President Benigno Aquino III and sign a de facto basing pact disguised as an “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” (EDCA).

The Filipino people had successfully driven away these US bases in 1991, but pro-US regimes continued to allow US ships, troops, armaments, drones, and electronic espionage facilities on the excuse of “non-permanent” presence as covered by the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Nevertheless, the EDCA that may be signed during the Obama-Aquino meeting would further expand the questionable premises of the VFA. This would allow the US practically unhindered access to Philippine facilities in order to station its troops and equipment, to even set up its own exclusive military facilities within Philippine bases or virtual “bases within bases,” and for its troops to operate in any part of the country in the guise of joint military exercises or humanitarian missions. Like the US-RP VFA, the US-PH EDCA would be in brazen violation of the country’s 1987 constitution that bans foreign troops and weapons of mass destruction on Philippine soil.

The US imperialists and their local puppets have been hyping the Philippine-China maritime dispute over the exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf of the Philippines under the UNCLOS, and terrorist scares as well in the southern islands bordering Malaysia and Indonesia, in order to justify the urgent signing of the EDCA and the entry of more US armed forces. Alarmingly, they are pushing the Philippine government to construct or renovate more bases, such as in Oyster Bay near the disputed Spratly islands, supposedly to counterbalance the Chinese presence in the area. They also rode on supertyphoon Haiyan’s disastrous impact by calling on the US Seventh Fleet to play the high-profile role of “savior”, suggesting it can do more humanitarian good if only it is allowed unhampered operations within the country.

Obama is also expected to quietly urge Manila to remove any remaining constitutional restrictions to foreign investments, including land ownership, and thus pave the way for the Philippines’ joining the TPPA.

Call for broader struggle vs US imperialism in East Asia

In the face of the current global crisis, the US wants to rush its military rebalancing act in the Asia-Pacific even as it is harried by major troubles in other global regions and in its own backyard. But the people in all countries of East Asia will not allow this imperialist scheme to ride roughshod over their national sovereignty. The International League of Peoples’ Struggle and a broad range of patriotic and progressive forces in the region are calling to oust US bases and troops from their shores, and to resist the intensified imperialist plunder of the region’s human and natural resources through the TPPA.

The ILPS calls on all the oppressed peoples in the region, as elsewhere in the world, to resist the US imperialist agenda and to fight for national and social liberation in all possible realms of struggle. We support the East Asian peoples’ broad opposition to the US bases, military buildup, and aggressive actions in their respective countries and throughout the region as a whole. We support their equally broad opposition to the neoliberal economic agenda in all its despicable aspects, including the US-dictated TPPA. We support their aspirations and demands for peace, genuine development, and social justice.

We reiterate our full support for the Japanese people’s protest actions against the new US base in Kyoto, and stand in solidarity with the AWC-Kyoto, the Kyoto Coalition, and the Kinki Coalition that are in the forefront of the anti-bases protest. We likewise express our support for the Okinawa people in opposing the plan to relocate the Futenma US base to Nago City, and hope that their struggle leads to the full ousting of all US bases from the Okinawa islands.

We again express our solidarity with the Korean people on both halves of the Korean peninsula in their long-aspired-for peaceful reunification, against the heavy US military presence in the south and US-instigated provocations against the north, and against the planned construction of a US naval base in Jeju.
We call on the Malaysian people to resist the sugarcoated pills being offered by the US through the Obama visit, with the intent of pulling their country deeper into the neoliberal trap of the TPPA. We are confident that anti-US imperialist groups in Malaysia will join hands and launch common protest actions to confront Obama and local pro-US reactionaries.

We salute the Filipino people in their century-old struggle against US imperialism. We commend Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other ILPS member-organizations in the Philippines for exposing and opposing the so-called US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, for their planned week-long protest in time for the Obama visit, and for linking up with other anti-bases and anti-imperialist organizations in the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, and elsewhere.

We extend our solidarity to the people of the United States, who are as victimized by US imperialism as the rest of the world. We welcome the increasing ranks and growing militancy of anti-war, anti-globalization, and anti-imperialist organizations in the US, especially in opposing domestic repression, military adventures overseas, and increased spending for war while the American people suffer the burden of the crisis.

All over the world, as in East Asia, countries and peoples are resisting US imperialism’s desperate efforts to extend its talons and dig its claws deeper as it continues on a path of long-term decline. The ILPS is one with them in the struggle until victory.

No to US bases, and imperialist wars and intervention!
US troops, out of East Asia!
Resist neoliberal economic dictates! Fight the TPPA!
Down with US imperialism and its domestic puppets in East Asia!
Long live the people of East Asia! Long live international solidarity!







Servility to the US in economic and security matters will not save the Aquino regime from its growing disrepute.
Last updated: 28 Apr 2014 13:19

Jose Maria Sison
Jose Maria Sison is a professor of political science and author of several books on Philippine and global issues. He is Chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with Manila.

Hyped as a major advance in the strategic partnership of the US and the Philippines, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) highlights the meeting of US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila this week.

EDCA circumvents the ban on foreign military bases and troops by the Philippine constitution and allows the US to increase the so-called rotational presence of its troops and build military bases under the guise of authorised temporary facilities in areas of the Philippine armed forces.

The Filipino people’s negative sentiments against EDCA are rising. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other organisations have issued statements denouncing it as a violation of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have called for mass protests against Obama and the Aquino regime.

Filipinos are averse to US military bases as they are reminders of the brutal US conquest of the Philippines. More than 10 percent or 700,000 of the Philippine population were killed in the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902. The carnage continued until 1913, bringing the total of Filipinos killed to 1.5 million.

In more recent history, the Filipinos hatred for the US military bases intensified when they perceived these as the main reason for US support of former President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorial rule from 1972 to 1986. Thus, the architects of the 1987 Philippine constitution decided to ban foreign military bases, troops and nuclear weapons from Philippine territory.

However, the 1947 US-RP Military Assistance Agreement and 1951 US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty have remained intact. The US military bases were dismantled in 1992 after the Philippine Senate passed the 1991 resolution ending leases for the US military bases. Since then, the US has manoeuvred to circumvent the ban and obtain the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1998 to cover the annual joint US-RP military exercises.

The VFA allows the the rotational presence of US military forces and their operations anywhere in the Philippines for any length of time to train and inter-operate with the Philippine armed forces, use their facilities and retain jurisdiction over criminal cases, including capital offences, involving US troops.
EDCA is now widely considered far worse than the VFA as it allows not only unlimited increase in the rotational presence of US military forces but also the building of US military bases and stations in areas of the Philippine armed forces, thus reducing Filipino troops to mere perimeter guards at the Philippines’ expense.

The US requires the Philippines to upgrade certain AFP camps and reservations in Palawan and Rizal to US military bases. It is spending P1 billion ($22.4m) to improve naval facilities in Ulugan Bay and Oyster Bay in Palawan to accommodate and service the growing traffic of US warships, planes and combat troops.

Filipinos are further outraged by the Aquino government’s promise to the US to amend the Philippine constitution in order to allow foreign investors unlimited ownership of land and businesses. The regime also intends to impress Obama with the capture of alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines as proof of the success of Oplan Bayanihan, a military plan aligned with the US Counterinsurgency Guide.

The Aquino government is painting the EDCA as a major help towards the continuing US-directed war against “terrorism” and to the US pivot to East Asia, which aims to deploy 60 percent of US naval forces and 50 percent of US ground and air forces in the region.

Both US and Philippine authorities tout EDCA as part of the US military’s rebalancing which aims to restrain China from threatening neighbouring countries. It also intends to keep the South China sea open to international navigation and commerce.

Protected from China’s bullying

Because the Philippines now feels protected from China’s bullying this has emboldened the Aquino government to oppose China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The exaggerated image of China as a threat to the security of other countries is used as justification to further entrench US military power in the Philippines and has given the US an opportunity to expand militarily in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, China itself has not helped to allay fears because of its claims to 90 percent of the South China sea, including the high seas. China has also threatened to grab the Philippine exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf to the extent of 90 percent and 100 percent, respectively, in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Aquino regime supports the US scheme to pressure China economically by participating actively in the US-instigated Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a mega-free trade agreement which pointedly excludes China, and offering the US and its closest allies 100 percent ownership of land and businesses in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the US maintains a dual policy of cooperation and contention towards China. The US and China maintain close bilateral economic and trade relations under the policy of neoliberal globalisation. Their economic and political relations far outweigh those between the US and the Philippines. The Aquino regime deludes itself by imagining that the US values more its relations with the Philippines than those with China.

The US military pivot to East Asia is not meant to provoke a war with China, but it is calculated to encourage so-called political liberalisation within China, discourage ultranationalist outbursts of the Chinese political leaders and blockade North Korea. The TPPA seeks to pressure China to privatise state-owned enterprises completely and further liberalise the economy in favour of foreign investors.
Servility to the US in economic and security matters will not save the Aquino regime from its growing disrepute for exploitativeness, incompetence, corruption and repression. The Philippines continues to reel from the ever worsening and deepening crisis of global capitalism and the domestic ruling system.

Social discontent is widespread and about to explode in massive protests. Meanwhile, the people’s armed movement for national and social liberation is conspicuously advancing with the nationwide guerrilla offensives of the New People’s Army.

Jose Maria Sison is a professor of political science and author of several books on Philippine and global issues. He is Chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Manila government.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.




Jose Maria Sison, the exiled leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and one of the top opponents of the deal told Al Jazeera that the agreement practically reopens the US bases in the country.

“The US military bases shall be practically re-establlished under the guise of facilities built on Philippine military grounds, with the Filipino military personnel practically serving as perimeter security guards and with the Philippine government sharing the costs,” he said.

Sison also said the the US “is exaggerating the threat of Chinese aggression in order to justify its pivot to East Asia” while establishing bases in the Philippines and “at the same time claiming neutrality between The Philippines and China”.

But he also said that China “is not helping itself by outlandishly claiming about 90 per cent of the entire South China Sea, including its high seas, and threatening to grab 90 per cent of the exclusive economic zone and 100 per cent of the extended continental shelf of the Philippines”.
Philippines defence pact boosts US influence
Signing of deal during Obama trip raises concern over US influence and impact on Manila’s already strained Chinese ties.
Ted Regencia
Last updated: 28 Apr 2014 19:41

Manila – US President Barack Obama has arrived in the Philippines in a visit widely seen as a part of Washington’s “pivot to Asia strategy.”

Obama landed just hours after Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg signed a new military agreement allowing more troops in the country.
The Philippine government said the pact was an affirmation “of the robust and enduring strategic partnership between” the two allies.

Talking to reporters in Manila, Goldberg, said that the new agreement would not allow the reopening of US bases in the Philippines, something that has been opposed by nationalist forces and is prohibited by the 1987 Constitution.

But the agreement essentially allows US access to Philippine military bases across the country.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the Philippines Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, told Al Jazeera that the agreement has “marginal advantages” for the country, and is more beneficial to the US.
With the signing of the agreement, Santiago said the US “could claim that it has ‘contained’ China, because the Asian countries involved, including the Philippines, are now bound by their respective agreements with America”.

“It would make the Philippines sounds as if we are a satellite ally of America,” she said.

During a joint press conference with the Philippine president, President Obama said he goal of the US was not to contain China.

“We welcome China’s peaceful rise. We have a constructive relationship with China,” Obama said.

“Our goal is not to counter China, our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make international rules and norms are respected, and that includes areas of maritime disputes.

“Our primary interest is the peaceful resolution of conflict, including navigation that allows for continued progress and prosperity. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to uphold peace and security in this region and around the world.”

Philippines president, Benigno Aquino, said the agreement “reaffirms our countries’ commitment to mutual defense and security, and promotes regional peace and stability.”

“Both President Obama and I share the conviction that territorial and maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region should be settled peacefully, based on international law. We affirm that arbitration is an open, friendly, and peaceful approach to seeking a just and durable solution,” he said.

Disputes with China

Anti-China sentiments have been on the rise in the Philippines, which is engaged with Beijing over disputed atolls in the potentially oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, with both countries claiming Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal as their own.

The Philippines has accused Beijing of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the sea, and has called on the US for greater military as well as diplomatic support.

While the treaty is seen to boost Manila’s confidence in countering the Chinese power, Santiago warned that the country must be careful in handling the agreement, and avoid the violation of the Philippines constitution.

“Filipinos should keep uppermost the supremacy of the Philippine Constitution,” she said.
“We should not accommodate any foreign power at the cost of the sovereignty of our Constitution, even if the problem is presented as if it were a problem of national survival.”

Activists opposing what they call “US imperialism in Asia,” raise the question of sovereignty.
They cite a case in 2005 when five US soldiers were initially sentenced to life in prison for allegedly raping a Filipino woman, before the ruling was overturned by another court and they were set free, despite public anger.

Another issue that has spiked contempt is the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the northern Philippines, supposedly by US military ships which Washington denies.

‘Exaggerated threat’

Jose Maria Sison, the exiled leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and one of the top opponents of the deal told Al Jazeera that the agreement practically reopens the US bases in the country.

“The US military bases shall be practically re-established under the guise of facilities built on Philippine military grounds, with the Filipino military personnel practically serving as perimeter security guards and with the Philippine government sharing the costs,” he said.

Sison also said the US “is exaggerating the threat of Chinese aggression in order to justify its pivot to East Asia” while establishing bases in the Philippines and “at the same time claiming neutrality between The Philippines and China”.

But he also said that China “is not helping itself by outlandishly claiming about 90 per cent of the entire South China Sea, including its high seas, and threatening to grab 90 per cent of the exclusive economic zone and 100 per cent of the extended continental shelf of the Philippines”.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Dr Francisco Nemenzo, a political scientist and former president of the University of the Philippines, criticised the negotiators for concealing the details of the agreement.

Nemenzo said the deal “just legitimises what they [the US] have been doing all these years: allowing the establishment of an American base within a Philippine base, which a Filipino commander cannot even enter.

“We want to know if the deal is a blanket agreement, allowing the US to set up a military facility wherever they want to.”

Security around the capital for the two-day visit is tight, including the ordering of a no-fly zone by the Philippine government during the arival of Air Force Once. 


By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Defending economic sovereignty

As the visit of US President Obama to Manila looms closer, both the Philippine and US governments are drumbeating the signing of the apparently more palatable Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as a high point while keeping mum about Obama’s equally important and urgent agenda such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and its prerequisite “Charter change” (Cha-cha).

The US pivot to Asia, which is the raison d’etre for the entire visit, is after all not just about shifting its military weight closer to China. It also involves repairing and reinforcing its economic and political alliances in the region and creating more favorable conditions for furthering the neoliberal agenda to mitigate, if not arrest its own deep crisis and overall decline.

The TPPA has been kept under tight wraps even as the US, the dominant player among 12 countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Canada, Mexico and Peru) has pushed hard to reach a “consensus” that has eluded negotiations thus far.

A series of leaked TPPA draft documents by Wikileaks shows why.

According to the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), controversies are triggered by “clauses that favor US monopoly control and undermine governmental processes” of other member-countries. “The TPPA’s main provisions are expected to require member-countries to remove any remaining barriers to investments, to strictly enforce intellectual property laws that would raise pharmaceutical costs and stifle digital innovation and freedom of expression, and to allow private corporations to sue states before an international tribunal. In effect, countries joining the TPPA will have to surrender big chunks of their national sovereignty to the trade pact’s imperialist masterminds.”

The Philippines is not yet a TPPA negotiating member state and this is where Cha-cha comes in.

While it is true that the renewed push for Cha-cha originated in the Lower House of Congress, it is a fact that the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFC) led by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and US government agencies like the Office of US Trade Representative (USTR), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the US embassy in the Philippines have bankrolled and engineered a sustained lobby for pro-foreign big business policy reforms through Charter amendments, various legislation and executive issuances.

The AmCham manages the USAID-funded and unabashed pro-TPPA The Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP) that “advocates” 471 neoliberal policy recommendations that promote the interests of foreign corporations in the country through greater liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization while undermining the national economy, facilitating greater plunder of the national patrimony and intensifying the attack on the people’s rights and welfare. Accordingly, all the remaining protectionist provisions of the Philippine Constitution are identified as disincentives to foreign capital that must be “bypassed, reformed, revised or removed”.

The Partnership for Growth initiative entered into by the US and the Philippines explicitly aims to give “support for trade and investment-related policy reforms needed to improve Philippine readiness to qualify for entry into... The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.”

In a Forum on PH-US relations in Washington D.C., August 2011, former US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. is quoted as saying, “[The Philippines has] to change laws, issue executive orders and frankly, introduce amendments to the Constitution” in order to join the TPPA.

IBON Foundation recently exposed more external pressurecoming from the Office of US Trade Representative (USTR). In its National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (2014) the USTR “identified 30% constitutional limit on foreign ownership in advertising; 40% limit on foreign investment in the operation and management of public utilities (water and sewage treatment, electricity distribution and transmission, telecommunications, and transportation); ban on foreigners to practice law, medicine, nursing, accountancy, engineering, architecture and customs brokerage; and restrictions on foreign ownership of land as among the barriers to trade being implemented by the Philippines.”

Foreign investors calling for Cha-cha find their strongest allies in their domestic partners in the local big business community who wield formidable clout over economic policy makers, implementers and arbiters in government, e.g. the Makati Business Club (MBC), Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

The unholy alliance between foreign and local big business interests (underpinned by government support) is the real juggernaut behind the House of Representatives’ Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 1 aka Cha-cha. It will have to be met and foiled by the broad unity and mass resistance by those classes and sectors in Philippine society who have most to lose in the unbridled entry and domination by foreign capital of the Philippine economy.

In the agricultural sector, the land-hungry peasants and farm workers and the indigenous peoples robbed of their ancestral lands will lead the fight against further liberalizing foreign ownership and utilization of alienable land. Massive land grabbing, unchecked land use conversion and forced displacement of rural folk to give way to mining, agri-business, commercial and tourism projects as well as government “development” projects are bound to worsen as a consequence of Cha-cha. Attendant socio-economic problems - malnutrition, poverty, disease and criminality - will surely be aggravated not just in the countryside but in urban areas where the displaced rural population spill over seeking jobs and other livelihood opportunities.

Chronic unemployment and underemployment and inhuman work conditions for the rest of the population also looms with Cha-cha. The neoliberal policies to be enshrined in the Constitution translate into a domestic economy continuously kept backward by feudal land tenure relations, the lack of an industrial base and the unbridled exploitation of its natural resources. It cannot generate the jobs, productive enterprises and social wealth that can sustain a bourgeoning population nearing the hundred million mark. The class divide between the miniscule elite and the masses including the sinking middle class is bound to grow and generate more social disorder, discontent and conflicts, while the state increasingly resorts to force to suppress resistance and dissent

The workers and urban poor in alliance with the middle forces of fixed income employees, small and medium entrepreneurs and patriotic business persons must awaken to the dangers of Cha-cha to their lives and livelihood and join the rural folk in their fervid opposition.


Nationalists and patriots among the intelligentsia - students and teachers, mass media practitioners, professionals, and artists - must join hands to prevent foreign big business interests from capturing, controlling and dominating educational, mass media and other cultural outlets through the expediency of Cha-cha.

The people’s broad and determined opposition both to the RP-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Cha-cha/TPPA cannot be underestimated. #

Published in Business World
25 April 2014

NCCP Statement on the Visit of US President Barrack Obama

The visit by U.S.President Barrack Obama to the Philippines over the coming days is being drummed up as a significant event for the “friendship” of both countries. This is not a friendly visit at all. Its main purpose is the signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC). The AEDC will give the U.S. the right to use Philippine military facilities for up to 20 years subject to renewal.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) has consistently spoken for peace in the past 50 years. Thus, the NCCP strongly opposes this new accord which will allow more U.S. troops, aircrafts and ships to be stationed in Philippine military camps. We understand that the new agreement is in line with US military, economic and political influence and interest in the Asian region. The military agenda of the US is closely tied to its economic agenda of extracting resources and wealth from the region and ensuring trade relationships. These are not to the best interest of the less developed countries.

The US is pursuing its military-strategic realignment referred to as the ‘pivot to Asia’. The objective is to locate greater numbers of military personnel and assets in the region to counter the growing influence of China. The pressure on the Philippines to accept a new security accord with allowances for increased US presence has been intense. Our political leaders are complicit in supporting the US agenda, rather than protecting Philippine sovereignty and patrimony.

We reiterate NCCP’s consistent stand against an over reliance by the Philippines on the military strength and assets of the United States. Peace cannot be achieved through the might of horses and chariots. The presence of a foreign army in our land is a direct challenge to our national sovereignty and integrity. The exchanges and compromises to allow greater US military access to many areas in the Philippines are an affront to our sovereignty. The rationales put forward to support them make the sovereign interests of the Philippines subservient to those of the United States of America. That is neither friendship nor partnership.

While the sovereignty concerns over areas of the West Philippine Sea are being addressed through international legal mechanisms, the view that the US-Philippine military alliance adds strength to the Philippine position is being propagated. Yet, trusting in military might, especially that of foreign nations, cannot lead to a long term environment of global peace. Instead, it puts the Philippines into the vulnerable position - caught up in international conflicts that are not in our national interest or serve the real security of our people. Foreign intervention is “a travesty against God’s will” (Statement on Growing US Military Intervention in the Philippines, NCCP General Convention, Nov. 17-21, 2003).

Military operations within the country conducted under the guise of joint exercises led to direct exploitation of our women and children and with US military personnel treated deferentially under the law even when serious charges have been brought against them such as rape. In the past, joint military exercises have resulted in human rights abuses, displacement of communities, the destruction of our natural environment through live fire operations; and, an increased militarization of the country with many human rights violations associated to it.

On this occasion of President Obama’s visit, we pray for the enlightenment of our government leaders to the end that they will uphold our national sovereignty and promote our people’s interests. We also call on the government to allow peaceful assemblies and not muffle protests so that people may express themselves in a democratic manner.

We call on the people to remain steadfast in guarding our sovereignty. Let us neither be deceived nor coerced to submit to this agreement that will add to our state of unpeace and proliferation of violence. This steadfastness stems from our faith in the Risen Christ who banished evil and who by his life, death and resurrection has shown us the way of genuine concern for the whole of creation. His promise of abundant life is not for some future time. It is for us to experience it in the resurrection of our Lord, made real and possible here and now because of the explosion of God’s love and justice everywhere. Vigilant people are children of the resurrection who heartily believe that “never again should we ever be under the yoke of slavery”.

Obispo Maximo XII
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Chairperson, NCCP

General Secretary, NCCP
April 27, 2014


The US has used its global network of bases and military agreements to invade, intervene and deploy its armed forces in military operations in 64 countries since after 1945.

The most violent of these acts of aggression have already resulted in some 17-28 million civilian deaths in 37 nations. Direct US military actions in 13 countries have caused 7-13 million deaths while the US-supported or- instigated armed conflicts in 24 other countries have resulted in another 10-15 million deaths





China’s 9-dash line claim of indisputable sovereignty over 90% of the South China Sea violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and robs the Philippines of 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone and 100% of its Extended Continental Shelf.

Interview with Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Liberation International, April 23, 2014

1. Why do you support the Philippine reactionary state in invoking the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and pursuing an arbitration case against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), particularly in the Arbitral Tribunal based in The Hague?

JMS: What I support is not so much the Philippine reactionary state as the invocation of the UNCLOS and upholding the sovereign rights of the Philippines and the Filipino people over the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as well as the extended continental shelf (ECS) in another 150 nautical miles from the outer limits of the EEZ. Thus, I have urged the Philippine government to act promptly on the matter.

It so happens that the Philippine state has the legal personality to pursue the case before the ITLOS. It is fine that it has filed a case against China under UNCLOS in January 2013 and the ITLOS has referred the case for hearing by one of its four mechanisms, the Arbitral Tribunal based in The Hague. On March 30, 2014 the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs submitted its Memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal that is hearing the case.

China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over 90 per cent of the South China under the so-called 9-dash line map in violation of the UNCLOS. It has hypocritically called for peaceful negotiations and consultations over what it asserts as non-negotiable issue and has also called for shelving disputes and going into joint development projects in the EEZ and ECS of the Philippines. For quite sometime, the consistent point of China has been to maneuver and paralyze the Philippines into a position of acquiescence to the false claim of China and prevent a legal case from being brought before the ITLOS under the UNCLOS.

If China is allowed to violate the UNCLOS and claim 90 percent of the South China Sea under the so-called 9-dash line map, the Philippines would suffer the loss of 80 per cent of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank and even Malampaya. It would also lose all its ECS. We have practically lost Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal to what is veritably Chinese aggression.
Irrespective of the political and social character of the present government occupying the seat of the Philippines in the community of states, the Filipino people and all patriotic and progressive forces must uphold the national sovereignty and safeguard the territorial integrity of the Philippines, including sovereignty over the territorial sea and the internal waters and sovereign rights over the EEZ and ECS. These are fundamental points of principle in the Program of the People’s Democratic Revolution.

2. The arbitration case is supposed to involve a maritime dispute rather than a territorial dispute. Why a maritime dispute? What are the implications and consequences?

JMS: It is a given fact that the Philippines and China have their sovereign rights over their respective EEZs under the UNCLOS beyond their respective 12-mile territorial seas from their respective baselines. The EEZs, including the ECSs, of both countries do not overrlap and are far apart from each other by hundreds of nautical miles. And the UNCLOS has extinguished the so-called historical rights of China over the islets, reefs and shoals outside of its EEZ and ECS. Moreover, these so-called historical rights beyond Hainan island are false and baseless even in the time before the UNCLOS.

The Philippine case brought before the ITLOS involves a maritime dispute. It is not about a territorial dispute or a case of maritime delineation, which is not governed by the UNCLOS and is not within the jurisdiction of the ITLOS. What the Philippines is simply after in the legal case is a court ruling that there are no overlapping EECs and ECSs between the Philippines and China and that China has no reason whatsoever to prevent or interfere with the Philippines enjoying its sovereign exclusive rights over its own EEZ and ECS.

There is no territorial dispute whatsoever between the Philippines and China, involving issues of sovereignty or ownership over land territory, such as islands or other elevations above water at high tide. Rocks or reefs that are below water at high tide cannot be considered land that is subject to territorial dispute. They are properly subject to maritime dispute that is governed by the UNCLOS.
Under the UNCLOS, maritime disputes among the signatory states like the Philippines and China are subject to compulsory arbitration. In contrast, territorial disputes can be the subject of arbitration only with the consent of each disputant state.

According to the Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio who has done scholarly legal work on the matter, the arbitration case of the Philippines against China is solely a maritime dispute. It does not involve any territorial dispute. The Philippines asks the tribunal whether China’s 9-dash lines can negate the EEZ that is guaranteed to the Philippines under UNCLOS. The aggrieved state also asks the tribunal whether rocks above water at high tide, like Scarborough Shoal, generate a 200-nautical mile EEZ or only a 12-nautical mile territorial sea. The Philippines further asks the tribunal whether China can appropriate low-tide elevations (LTEs), like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, within the Philippines’ EEZ.

3. The whole world knows how China arrogantly claims almost the entire South China Sea as being under its “indisputable sovereignty”, how in this regard it has expressed contempt towards any judicial process and how it has engaged in bullying and in aggressive occupation of islets and rocks within the EEZ of the Philippines. But in legal terms, how does China react to the arbitration case filed by the Philippines? And how does the Philippines answer?

JMS: China is determined to avoid participation in the proceedings of the Arbitral Tribunal. It argues that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case submitted by the Philippines, supposedly for two reasons: first, China can opt out of compulsory arbitration because the dispute involves maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping EEZs of the Philippines and China, requiring the consent of both to litigate; and second, China’s 9-dash line claim is a historical right that predates UNCLOS and cannot be invalidated by UNCLOS.

The answer of the Philippines is that the waters within China’s 9-dash lines do not constitute an EEZ because said lines are not drawn from baselines along the coast of China or any of its islands. China’s 9-dash lines do not comply with the UNCLOS for drawing EEZs. There is in fact no EEZ of China that overlaps with the Philippines’ EEZ. Relative to the Scarborough area, China’s baselines are either along the coast of Hainan Island, which is 580 NM from Luzon, or along the coast of mainland China, which is 485 NM miles from the Zambales coastline in Luzon facing Scarborough Shoal. Even the Chinese-held Paracels are 480 miles from Luzon.

Low-tide elevations (LTEs) in the Spratlys within the 200-nautical mile EEZ of the Philippines, like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, are subject to the sovereign rights of the Philippines. Under the UNCLOS, only the Philippines can construct structures here. China has no right whatsoever to occupy and construct structures on any of the LTEs in the EEZ of the Philippines.

4. How does the Philippine debunk China’s invocation of historical rights to claim almost the entirety of the China Sea and even certain habitable islands (as in the Paracels) previously conceded to Vietnam at the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference and nonhabitable islets, shoals and reefs that are within the EEZ of the Philippines and other countries?

The prevalent view, if not almost unanimous, among non-Chinese scholars on the law of the sea is that China’s “historical right” to the waters within the 9-dash lines in the South China Sea is completely without basis under international law. First of all, the UNCLOS extinguished all historical rights of other states within the EEZ of a coastal state. Thus, the term “exclusive” is used to denote the sovereign rights of a coastal state over its exclusive economic zone. Fishing rights that people from Hainan, Taiwan and Japan previously enjoyed in what would become the Philippine EEZ were automatically terminated upon the effectivity of UNCLOS. The UNCLOS does not allow any state to invoke historical rights in order to claim the EEZs or ECSs of other coastal states.

The historical records show that never did any state claim, beyond the 12-nautical mile territorial sea, that the South China Sea is its internal waters or territorial sea, until 1947 when China domestically released its 9-dash line map and 2009 when China officially notified the world of its 9-dash line claim and submitted the 9-dash line map to the United Nations Secretary General. No country other than China recognizes the validity and effectivity of China’s 9-dash line claim. China has never effectively enforced its claim between 1947 and 1994 when UNCLOS took effect, and even thereafter. Outside of the valid territorial sea of China, ships have freely crossed the South China Sea and planes have flown over it, without having to get permission from China.

The waters enclosed within China’s 9-dash lines cannot form part of China’s EEZ or ECS because they are beyond the limits of China’s EEZ and ECS as drawn from China’s baselines in accordance with UNCLOS. Such waters do not fall under any of the maritime zones – internal waters, territorial sea, EEZ and ECS – which are recognized by international law or UNCLOS. So far, China has not explained to the world what kind of maritime regime the 9-dash line waters fall under. It simply keeps on harping ad nauseam that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over such waters by “historical right.”

5. You have made fun of China’s “historical right” to having “indisputable sovereignty” over the entire South China Sea by comparing it with the irridentist ambitions of Mussolini to reclaim the territories that previously belonged to the ancient Roman empire. Don’t you think that it is useful to examine and test the factual basis of the “historical right” invoked and asserted by China in order to debunk its arrogant claim to “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

JMS: Indeed, it is useful to examine and test the factual basis of China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea as a matter of “historical right”. And in the process, you can have a few laughs. For instance, China claims that Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan Island to the Chinese, is the Nanhai island that the 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279, upon the order of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, to conduct a survey of the Four Seas to update the Sung Dynasty calendar system.

But in the document entitled “China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable” dated January 30, 1980, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo Shoujing visited in 1279 was in Xisha or what is internationally called the Paracels, a group of islands more than 380 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal. China has thus debunked itself and is estopped from claiming the shoal. The Chinese claim to the shoal becomes hilarious when the purported historical account depicts Guo Shoujing going ashore on the small rock and building on it a massive observatory with a height of 12.6 meters.

The Murillo map is the oldest map in the world showing Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago. It was first issued in 1734 during the Spanish colonial period. It is entitled Mapa de las Islas Filipinas. It was drawn up by the Spanish priest Fr. Pedro Murillo. It clearly shows Scarborough Shoal, then called Panacot, in the vicinity of Zambales. Filipino fishermen called the shoal Panacot and often went to it for fishing.

One more absurd and funny claim of China is that the southernmost territory in the South China Sea is James Shoal, 50 nautical miles from the coast of Bintulu, Sarawak, East Malaysia. This shoal is a fully submerged reef, 22 meters under water. It is entirely within Malaysia’s EEZ and is more than 950 nautical miles from China. It is obvious that Chinese leaders and cartographers claimed James Shoal as China’s southernmost territory without anyone of them seeing it. But once more the Chinese narrative goes hilarious as it speaks of Chinese going ashore to “visit” James Shoal. James Shoal is unique for being the only national border in the world that is fully under the sea and too far beyond the territorial sea of the claimant state.

Many errors crept into the map of South China Sea made by the “Inspection Committee for Land and Water Maps” created by the Republic of China in 1933. The committee merely copied the existing British maps and changed the names of the islands by either translating them or transliterating them to make them sound Chinese. For example, Antelope Reef was translated as Lingyang and Spratly Island was transliterated as Sipulateli. The Chinese map even copied 20 errors in the British map (which misrepresented non-islands as islands) which the British map makers would later correct.

All Chinese official maps during the Yuan, Ming and Ching Dynasties acknowledged Hainan island as the southernmost border of China. These Chinese dynasty maps never mentioned the Paracels, the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal, the 9-dash lines or the U-shaped lines. The Chinese Government officially declared to the world in 1932 that the “southernmost part of Chinese territory” or border was Hainan Island. In the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference, the Soviet Union demanded on behalf of China that the Paracels and Spratlys be turned over to China but the demand was rejected by a vote of 48 states to 3 states.

The Chinese should not mislead themselves into thinking that they own the entire South China Sea just because the European mariners and cartographers gave it such name. The Chinese do not own it as much as the Indians do not own the entire Indian Ocean. Long before the Chinese imperial admiral Zeng He undertook his famous sea voyages from 1405 to 1433 A.D., the prehistoric inhabitants of the Philippines had fished in the waters, now within the Philippine EEZ, and the Filipino traders had become masters of the South China Sea in the course of trading with China, Indochina and their brother Malays in what are now Indonesia, Kalimantan and Malaysia.

6. A Chinese professor from the University of Beijing wrote recently that China has the right to own islands, islets, reefs and shoals even within the EEZ of the Philippines, as in the case of British isles being dependencies of Britain even as they are geographically far closer to France?

JMS: Such scholars conveniently do not mention the fact that the British isles referred to have long been inhabited by the British and have been recognized as British dependencies by nearby states and to my knowledge all other countries. They might as well mention the colonial possessions of Britain in far flung areas in the history of British colonialism and imperialism. In an effort to hold on to the Malvinas or what they they call the Falklands, the British have combined the aggressive use of imperialist force and the deployment of British settlers.

7. Is it possible and mutually beneficial for the Philippines and China to engage in joint development projects within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines? What are now the obstacles? Why is it that China has manifested aggressive behavior?

JMS: It is possible and mutually beneficial if first of all both China and the Philippines simultaneously recognize their sovereign rights over their respective EEZs and ECSs and then immediately agree on joint development projects. It is preposterous if such joint development is subject to the precondition of recognizing China’s “indisputable sovereignty” under its 9-dash line claim over almost the entire South China Sea.

Surrendering to such precondition would mean the Philippines giving away and losing automatically at least 80 per cent of the EEZ and 100 per cent ECS and probably even losing the right to free and safe navigation in the South China Sea. Not one of the claimant states to the Spratlys has accepted China’s joint development offer because of the precondition of recognizing China’s imperial claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

The Philippines and the Filipino people cannot take lightly or ignore the aggressive actions already taken by China in connection with its greedy claim of owning almost the entire South China Sea. Through aggressive actions, China has grabbed the Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborouigh Shoal in 2012. Earlier it grabbed from Vietnam the Paracels in 1974 and Fiery Reef Cross in 1988. By all indications, China is poised to force out the handful of Philippine marines aboard the shipwrecked Philippine navy boat on Ayungin Reef, a low tide elevation in the EEZ of the Philippines in the Spratlys. Armed aggression violates the UN Charter.

The Filipino people should understand that China since the death of Mao has become a capitalist country. As the neoliberal partner of US imperialism, it has prominently promoted big comprador operations such as the proliferation of export-oriented sweatshops, privatization of the rural industries built under Mao and the wanton use of finance capital to generate a private construction boom and consumerism among less than 10 per cent of the population.

It converted proletarian state power into a bourgeois nationalist power and indeed developed further its industrial base, including its production of advanced weapons. Although it still has a relatively low per capita GDP, China is already a big capitalist power with the economic features of a modern imperialist power and is on the verge of a definitive kind of military aggression.

8. In legal terms, what are the prospects of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China? What are the prospects in political and economic terms? How do you take into account the further entrenchment of US imperialism in the Philippines and the collusion and contention between the US and China?

JMS: The Philippines has a good chance of winning the case. The approach in the case is excellent. It is a maritime dispute and not a territorial dispute. It attacks the outrageous claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. To be benefited is not only the Philippines but also the other state claimants to EEZs and ECSs under the UNCLOS and all the people of the world who are interested in free and safe navigation over the South China Sea by ship and by airplane.

I estimate that the judges will make a ruling that yields the benefits that I have just mentioned and that keeps the South China Sea from becoming a hotbed of aggression based on the overreaching claims of China or the US. China insists that it can defy compulsory arbitration by arguing out of court that the case filed by the Philippines with the ITLOS is not a maritime dispute but territorial dispute or dispute over maritime delineation which are not governed by the UNCLOS and are outside the jurisdiction of the UNCLOS.

It cannot escape from compulsory arbitration because the tribunal can consider and rule on the pleading of the Philippines and weigh the arguments given by China for not participating in the process. If the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal is not favorable to it, China will probably behave better in the face of the international community or will proceed on a path of imperialist aggression.
A decision favorable to the Philippines can be a good basis for pro-actively offering cooperation to China and for telling the US to stop pretending as the protector of the Philippines against China and to cease its unbridled plundering and further military entrenchment in the Philippines. Unlike the US, China is a country that has never carried out a fullscale aggression to conquer the Philippines. It has the capacity and probable willingness to help the Philippines achieve national industrialization through equitable and friendly economic and trade relations.

However, the Philippines and the Filipino people must be always vigilant to the relationship of collusion and contention between the US and China in a world still suffering from imperialism, neocolonialism and the revisionist betrayal of socialism and the revolutionary forces of the people are just beginning to reinvigorate themselves and resurge.

9. What ought to be the long term view of the Filipino people and the patriotic and progressive forces in upholding national sovereignty, territorial integrity and sovereign rights over the exclusive economic zone and the extended continental shelf?

JMS: The Philippines should be independent of the US, China and other capitalist powers. To have their own strength and gain the respect, solidarity and cooperation of other peoples, the Filipino people should win the new democratic revolution and proceed to the socialist revolution. They must attain national sovereignty and democracy for the toiling masses of workers and peasants, realize social justice, carry out land reform and national industrialization, promote a patriotic and progressive culture and develop cooperative relations with all countries for the sake of peace and development.

10. What would you suggest as study material for understanding the dispute of the Philippines and China in connection with the latter’s claim of indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and even the West Philippine Sea, where the Philippines has its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS)?

JMS: The most studious should read and study the 4000-page memorial of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China, submitted to The Hague-based Arbitral Tribunal.

There are plenty of scholarly legal works on the issue by Filipino and foreign experts on international law and the law of the sea. But for general readers, I suggest as the most concise and yet comprehensive and profound material is the speech of Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, “What’s at Stake in Our Case Vs. China,” delivered before the Philippines Women’s Judges Association on March 14, 2014. ###



APRIL 25, 2014

Throwback to 1946, strengthening US stranglehold on the Philippines
Bulatlat perspective

The Aquino government has been rushing two things in time for the visit of US Pres. Barack Obama: the “Framework Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation” between the US and the Philippines that would provide US troops, warships, submarines, fighter planes and war materials greater access to military camps and other facilities such as airports, ports, warehouses; and moves to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to allow 100 percent foreign-owned corporations to have the same privileges as local corporations to own land and property, and to engage in business in otherwise restricted sectors of the economy such as exploitation of natural resources, operation of public utilities, media and education, among others.

Malacañang has been denying that it is rushing the agreement but the actions and statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs show otherwise. Likewise, President Aquino has been issuing statements distancing himself from moves to amend the 1987 Constitution but the actions of the ruling party and its allies in Congress, and the ease by which the resolution regarding the amendments has been passed belie claims that Malacañang has got nothing to do with it.

Why is it so important for the Aquino government to at least show its determination to pass the two measures when US President Obama arrives? Because the US pivot to Asia is the main agenda of the trip of Pres. Obama, and this pivot not only involves increasing US military presence in the region but more important is pushing US economic interests, especially trade and investments, in the resource and market-rich Asia-Pacific region. That is why the US entered, or rather hijacked, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in the first place.

The Aquino government has been claiming that the increased US military presence and access in the Philippines would protect the country in case the opposing claims to islands and shoals in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China escalates into armed clashes and would help the government achieve a “minimum credible defense posture.”

Progressive groups, on the other hand, are saying that while the country should assert its sovereign right over the disputed islands and shoal, it should not surrender its national sovereignty to another foreign power, the US at that, to be able to do so. And besides, the US has not made any categorical statement supporting Philippine claims and committing itself to come to the country’s aid if armed clashes would happen. With regards the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, having US military bases in the country from 1901 to 1991 and so many US-RP military agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the Joint US-RP Military Advisory Group, the Visiting Forces of Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement did not help the AFP modernize.

“If the intention of the original Mutual Defense Treaty was to modernize the AFP, then it has utterly failed,” Prof. Roland Simbulan told in an interview. “The AFP is lagging behind even compared to Brunei in terms of defending external stability.”

According to Bayan Muna’s Satur Ocampo: “This treaty and the US have not really helped in AFP modernization. It only enhanced its dependence and derogated Philippine sovereignty.”

The Aquino government has also been claiming that amending the economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution to remove restrictions on foreign corporations doing business in the country would attract more foreign investments, which, in turn, would spur economic growth, generate employment, and enable the country to catch up with its neighbors. Progressive think tank group Ibon Foundation, on the other hand, has come up with studies showing the contrary.

In its report to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Ibon said that “despite lamentations that the country is a regional laggard, foreign direct investments (FDI) have increased by every possible measure. Annual FDI inflows increased fifteen-fold and the cumulative stock twenty-fold between 1981 and 2013. Inflows have tripled as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) and doubled as a percentage of gross fixed capital formation.”

Jose Enrique Africa, Ibon executive director, said “despite the continuing rise in foreign direct investments, government’s own data show that there has been a rise in the country’s unemployment rate and forced migration, as well as chronic poverty and severe inequality.

Flashback 60 to 70 years ago.

Then Senate President Manuel Quezon objected to the Hare-Hawes Cutting Law, which would have granted ‘independence’ to the Philippines after a 10-year Commonwealth period, because of the provision that “gave the U.S. president unilateral authority within two years of Philippine independence to retain military and naval bases for the United States.” (Why and How the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement of 1947 Got Approved by Stephen R. Shalom, republished by the Filipino Mind, November 28, 2012)

Quezon was quoted as saying that he was “absolutely and unqualifiedly opposed to all kinds of United States reservations in the Philippine Islands after independence shall have been granted. But it does mean that I will never give my consent to any law that gives this discretionary power to the President of the United States.”

However, on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Quezon changed his position, which he expressed in a cable to a US newspaper (to William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, 4 Dec. 1941) “It is not true that I have ever objected to having American naval stations in the Philippines after independence. All I wanted was that their establishment should be with the consent of the Government of the Philippines. I did object to military reservations and still do object now because your having military reservations everywhere in the Philippines after independence would in effect nullify independence.”

Forward a few years later, Quezon was already dead and Manuel A. Roxas was elected as president. Roxas reportedly did not object to most of the proposals of the US regarding the retention of US military bases, which included that the United States would acquire the bases for ninety-nine years (article 29), that Clark Air Base alone was to cover 130,000 acres, that the city of Olongapo was to be totally part of Subic Naval Base, that U.S. authority would extend to the “vicinity of the bases” (article 3), that the United States would be permitted to use public utilities and all other facilities under conditions no worse than those applicable to the Philippine armed forces (article 7), that the Philippines could not give third nations base rights without U.S. approval (article 25), or that Filipinos were to be permitted to volunteer to serve in the U.S. armed forces (article 27).

Roxas merely objected to two provisions: the establishment of military facilities in Manila and the provision granting the US military jurisdiction over all criminal offenses committed by US Armed Forces personnel.

However, a few senators objected to the proposed military bases agreement.

Senator Tomas Confesor declared that the bases were “established here by the United States, not so much for the benefit of the Philippines as for their own.” He warned his colleagues that “We are within the orbit of expansion of the American empire. Imperialism is not yet dead.” “Parity” and the bases agreement.”

Confesor said parity rights and the bases agreement, “complement one another. In the first, we deliver into the hands of the nationals of the United States the natural resources of the country. In the second, we relinquish our sovereign rights over practically every portion of the Philippines, to the end that the United States may properly protect the investments of her citizens in this country.”

Senator Alejo Mabanag stated that: “Fundamentally and in principle, I am opposed to the establishment of bases in our country because it constitutes an encroachment on our sovereignty. Not only that, while years ago military bases were considered good defenses, [in] this age of the atomic bomb, such bases are no longer sufficient defense. On the contrary, they are an invitation to attack.”

The US-RP military bases agreement of 1947 was nevertheless passed by the Philippine Congress. The only concession the US gave was that it did not establish a military installation in Manila. The US dangled military aid to have the agreement approved. The Roxas government used this aid against the peasant unrest in Central Luzon.

In the United States, the administration decided to consider the bases pact an executive agreement, thus requiring no Senate approval. (sounds familiar?)

The author of the article Why and How the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement of 1947 Got Approved Stephen R. Shalom* noted: “That the United States had rushed massive amounts of military equipment to its bases in the Philippines in the six months before Pearl Harbor to no avail or that the impregnable British
base at Singapore was quickly overrun by the Japanese Imperial Army might have suggested that foreign bases were hardly a guarantee against invasion and conquest. “

On the other hand, the Philippines sent troops to Korea in the 1950s and Vietnam in the 1960s.

Parallel to the negotiations for the retention of US military bases is the push for the enactment of the Bell Trade Act of 1946, which, among other things, contained the controversial “Parity rights” provision, which grants US citizens the same rights as Filipinos in doing business in the country, including the right to exploit the country’s natural resources and to operate basic utilities. The Roxas government then used the argument, which is still being used now, that granting parity rights to US citizens would attract more foreign investments and therefore, result in economic development.

One of the most consistent in opposing “parity rights” was the late Sen. Claro M. Recto. The following are some of his arguments lifted from the Recto Reader and published by The Filipino Mind.

“This parity clause, it need not be said, is grossly unfair. This is, indeed, the first instance in history where an independent nation has granted to citizens of another rights equal to those enjoyed by its own citizens.”

“Parity opens the door to foreign direct investment. In fact, foreign investment constitutes the very motivation for parity rights.”

“With foreign direct investments financing our industrialization, and with the economy passing gradually into foreign hands, not only shall we be poorer than ever but even our political independence would dwindle into insignificance.”

“Inasmuch as profits and savings therefrom are the only sources of capital formation, those profits that belong to foreign capital can not help promote our own capital formation; consequently, there is no increase in our capacity to produce. “

“We remain, in the end, poor and underdeveloped, When foreign investors send home their income, capital, and savings, then we shall be back where we were before they were ‘attracted,’ perhaps in a worse condition, where we might even have to beg the foreign investors to keep their investments in the Philippines not to enrich us but just to be able to give some employment to our laboring class.”

Well, the rest is history. The Philippines lagged behind its neighbors in economic growth, in real terms. The Philippines could not even build a decent bicycle out of materials produced in the country.

The debate over the “Framework Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation” would not only bring back the US military bases that the Filipino people were able to kick out in 1991. Worse, it will allow the establishment of US military installations in and expand access of US troops, aircraft carriers, warships and submarines, fighter jets and drones, and war materiel to every corner of the country, including what the late president Roxas objected to, in the capital. In fact, reports reveal that the US has a military installation inside Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Likewise, the moves to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to allow foreign-owned corporations to penetrate every sector of the economy practically brings the country back to the time when US businesses enjoyed “parity rights” in the country under the Bell Trade Act of 1946. The Laurel-Langley Agreement of 1955, which replaced it, made parity rights reciprocal, effectively limiting the rights that American businesses could enjoy in the Philippines. When the Laurel-Langley Agreement expired in 1974, the Marcos dictatorship replaced “parity rights” with investment incentives such as tax holidays, tariff-free importation, freedom to repatriate profits, among others. With the current push to remove the economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution, the Aquino government is bringing the country back to 1946. Worse, “parity rights” would be practically granted to ALL foreign corporations and citizens, not only Americans.

There is truth in what a political economist once said: History does repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

-Stephen R. Shalom got his Bachelor’s degree from M.I.T., his Master’s from Northeastern, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University. He began teaching at William Paterson in 1977. He is the author of The United States and the Philippines: A Study of Neocolonialism (1981); editor of Socialist Visions (South End Press, 1984); author of Imperial Alibis: Rationalizing U.S. Intervention After the Cold War (South End Press, 1993); co-editor of The Philippines Reader (South End Press, 1987), Bitter Flowers, Sweet Flowers: East Timor, Indonesia, and the World Community (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); author of the text Which Side Are You On? An Introduction to Politics (Longman, 2003); and editor of Perilous Power: The Middle East &U.S. Foreign Policy. Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice by Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar (Paradigm Publishers, 2007). He is one of the co-editors of New Politics. He is the director of the Gandhian Forum for Peace & Justice.

-Also do read It is very informative. (

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Press Statement of BAYAN
April 27, 2013
Reference: Renato M. Reyes, Jr, Bayan secretary general

In a brazen display of treachery, the Aquino regime is set to sign tomorrow April 28 at 10am the US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement at Camp Aguinaldo, just before the arrival of US President Barack Obama. The signing is obviously a gift by the puppet president to his imperialist master. Aquino now gains the distinction of reversing all the gains of the Senate’s removal of US bases from the country. The puppet president ushers in a new period of US military occupation, underscoring the status of the country as an American neo-colony.

The supposed assurance that the new pact will not lead to permanent US presence and basing is worthless. The Filipino people are being hoodwinked by the Philippine and US governments because US forces have already been permanently stationed in the country since 2002 under the Visiting Forces Agreement. The EDCA only makes the VFA worse because now, the permanently stationed US troops can access PH facilities, they can set up their own facilities and they can preposition their weapons and equipment here. The EDCA also does not state how many troops can enter the country and how long they can remain here.

The 10-year agreement is tailored to meet the US objective of moving 60% of its warships to Asia by 2020. Once the US forces establish a firmer foothold, they would seek to acquire more concessions for their basing. Aquino continues to ignore the calls from current and former Senator and other legal luminaries who are all asserting that the new defense pact should pass Senate scrutiny and should not be treated as a mere executive agreement.

We will continue to resist this new US violation of our sovereignty as we hold nationwide protests tomorrow in time for the visit of US imperialist chieftain Barack Obama. We call on patriotic Filipinos to defend our sovereignty from all forms of foreign intervention, whether in the form of US bases or China’s incursions in our waters.


Philippine, Japan roles in US ‘rebalancing’ plan
By Satur C. Ocampo
At Ground Level | The Philippine Star

When US President Barack Obama comes to Manila on Monday, capping a four-country trip in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines), will the Aquino government gift him with a signed agreement that would “give American ships and planes the most extensive access to (Philippine military) bases” since the two huge US bases were thrown out of here in 1992?

With implicit certainty, the International New York Times reported Wednesday that Obama was expected to announce such an agreement on Monday, describing it as “the centerpiece” of his trip — which aims to reassure their allies of America’s treaty commitments, respond to China’s growing assertiveness as a regional economic-military power, and promote the US role in the region’s economic growth.

The accord “is a modest step to reassert America’s military presence in Asia,” the INYT pointed out adding, “But it could nonetheless antagonize China.”

(China has been enmeshed in a maritime-claim dispute with the Philippines over the Panatag/Scarborough Shoal, the Ayungin Shoal and other small island groups in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.)

The exact provisions of the agreement — the subject of negotiations since 2012, and recently renamed “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” from “Increased Rotational (Troop) Presence” — have been kept under wraps by both the US and Philippine governments.

Once announced as a done deal, the agreement’s provisions should be made public for any concerned party to question and challenge — whether they are equitable, just, legal or constitutional.

The department of foreign affairs, which played second fiddle to the defense department in the negotiations, has couched the objectives of the EDCA/IRP in terms that require definitive clarifications. For instance:

• Increasing the presence of US troops on a “rotational basis” in Philippine territory (averaging 600 armed personnel since 2002) towards developing a “minimum credible defense posture.”

• Building this minimum credible defense posture in order to “enhance maritime domain awareness” and to “develop a deterrence capability.”

• Developing “deterrence capability” through “high-impact and high-value” joint military exercises which promote “interoperability and capacity-building” that will also bolster “humanitarian assistance and disaster response.”

The core issue in the EDCA, however, is military access and facilities. The US would be allowed to build its own military facilities within Philippine bases/camps (foreign bases within national bases?), provided Filipino military (and civilian?) officials would have access to such facilities. (The decade-old US facility built within a Philippine base in Zamboanga City has been off-limits to Filipinos.)

This is much more controversial than increased troop presence. It runs smack against the 1987 Constitution (Transitory Provisions, Section 25), which bans “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities… except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

Both governments regard the deal as an executive agreement, not a treaty, that doesn’t need Senate concurrence. They claim that the US troop presence and the facilities built and still to be built are “upon the request of the Philippine government” and are allowed under the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1999, which “merely” implements the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

But whereas the US stands to gain much — not just modestly — under the EDCA, the supposed benefits to the Philippines are dubious.

For one, under the Mutual Defense Treaty the US is supposed to come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of an external attack or invasion. Yet, no American official has categorically stated the US would do so if China initiates an armed attack against our country, or any part of its territory.

Assurances of support have repeatedly been given, but when it involves maritime or territorial disputes with China, the US has declared that officially it takes a neutral stand.

This contrasts with the categorical assurance to Japan recently given by President Obama, in a written reply to Yomiuri Shimbun questions regarding the Japan-China dispute over the Sensaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Obama wrote:

“The policy of the US is clear – the Sensaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security… And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

How explain the variance between the US-RP mutual defense treaty and that with Japan?

One explanation is that the US-RP treaty has been deliberately rendered vague on this point as to be utterly useless to the Philippines, which a former member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board (2009-2011), Robert Kaplan, derisively describes as “America’s colonial burden.”

In his recent book, Kaplan portrays the Philippines as a “semi-failed entity with weak institutions and an extremely weak military” that the US exploits as a pawn to maintain its geopolitical dominance in Asia.

On the other hand, Japan is the prime surrogate of the US in Asia. The Obama administration has encouraged the Shinzo Abe government — disregarding the US-crafted pacifist constitution — to pursue a more assertive security policy and build up its air and naval forces, both for self-defense and to back up US geopolitical objectives in Asia.

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April 26, 2014

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