27 APRIL 2014
LFS assails EDCA, Calls Obama’s Statement on China “A
Slap in the Face” for Aquino’s Plan
“Obama’s speech yesterday affirmed the United States’ stark eminence in
the country’s economic, political and military affairs and Aquino had
attested how compliant he is to this master-and-slave relationship by
inking the pact hours before Obama arrived,” said League of Filipino
Students (LFS) National Spokesperson Charlotte Velasco.
LFS and other patriotic organizations of the youth and other sectors
staged a subsequent protest on the last day of Obama’s the Philippines and
culmination of his Asian trip. The youth organization expressed militant
indignation over the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
(EDCA) yesterday and rallied demands for the Aquino government to “stop
being a ‘tuta’” of the powerful imperialist superpower.
“The Philippine government has long been obedient and instrumental to the
objectives of the US to strengthen its power worldwide even at the expense
of the people. Now, Aquino has even surpassed the puppetry of past
administrations by allowing the US to establish de facto basing in the
country and further rape our motherland through EDCA, ” Velasco said.
“Obama has confirmed that EDCA will not bolster up our defense partnership
with the US. He also stated that the US will not ‘counter China’ and
assert the Philippine’s territorial claims. This is certainly statement a
slap in the face for the Aquino government who has doggedly defended the
deal with US,” continued Velasco
LFS asserted that the new military agreement will not strengthen up the
Philippines’ own ‘defense capabilities’ and cited the Mutual Defense Treay
(MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as background. The youth
group reiterated that EDCA will only hoist the US’s maritime interest in
the Asia Pacific region and intensify its “parasitic” plunder and war in
the Philippines and the world over. It said that EDCA will also shore up
the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and advance foreign
interest in the Philippine economy.
The youth league also condemned Obama’s “silence” over different crimes
done by the US such as the destruction of the UN protected heritage site
Tubbataha Reef, the waste dumping in Subic waters, the killings and
harassment during BALIKATAN exercises, and other human rights and
sovereign violations. Velasco pointed out that while Obama is eager in
forwarding their “self-serving” interests in the guise of EDCA and TPPA,
he failed to mention any plans of accountability. Velasco pointed out that
“Obama proved once more that US is neither a friend nor a benefactor”.
“We call on the youth to see through the lies of the US-Aquino government.
Now that the US reaffirms its arrogant option to withdraw actual defense
support or mutual benefits to its neocolonies such as the Philippines and
still chase after its own interest, the Filipino people must learn that we
have to independently confront both the US and China. We have to stand on
our own and fight for our sovereignty,” stated Velasco.
“Obama’s visit in Asia has sparked up protests in different countries and
this shows that the Filipino people are truly not alone in their fight
against US intervention. The people’s resistance against imperialism shall
move forward!,” concluded Velasco. ###
Charlotte Velasco, LFS National Spokesperson
(63) 926 594 5243
Aries Gupit, LFS Deputy Secretary General
(63) 905 331 3902 ; (63) 939 767 3904
April 28, 2014
References: Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, 09178350459
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, 09177174014
Bayan Muna media officer Carl Ala, 09175110459
BAYAN MUNA: EDCA PATENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Says agreement allows unli-US troops, prepositioning of jets and warships
and makes the whole PH as a US base
Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate today
said that the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
(EDCA) between the United States of America and the Philippines is
patently unconstitutional and should be questioned at the Supreme Court.
Rep. Colmenares charged that aside from the fact that EDCA will
practically bring back US military bases in the Philippines it upgraded
the extremely lopsided relations between the two countries by doing it
without a treaty, without rent and without limits as the US may use all
Philippine military facilities - an arrangement worse than the Bases
Treaty rejected by the Philippine Senate in September 1991.
“Simply put in addition with Charter change we are again being made to be
a fully pledged American colony,” said the senior deputy minority leader.
“Even if they say that “key provisions and modalities of the EDCA would
reflect, among others, full respect for Philippine sovereignty,
nonpermanence of US troops and no US military basing in the Philippines
and a prohibition against nuclear weapons, we all know that these can be
circumvented by the fact that in reality it is the US government that is
the one calling the shots and not the Aquino administration,” said Rep.
“In fact based on the document ‘Question and Answer on the Enhanced
Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)’ released by Malacanang, the US would
at least have 10 years of using Ph bases and there would be no limit to
the US troops that would come to the country. They can also preposition
jets and warships in our territory. The US can also make facilities and
upgrade infrastructure e.g. bases, command centers and the like for their
purposes. These are at the very least very questionable and should be
scrutinized because as it is, in paper it is a Philippine base but in
reality it is a US base,” said Rep. Colmenares.
Meanwhile Rep. Carlos Zarate said that “another point is the supposed
prohibition of nuclear weapons, but the US maintains a neither confirm nor
deny policy if their ships or planes carry nuclear weapons. Aside from
this the US military can still bring other types of weapons of mass
destruction that would make us a prime target of US enemies. This is a
clear threat to our country’s safety and security,”
“Furthermore, they already found a way to circumvent the constitutional
ban on the presence of foreign troops in the country thru the Visiting
Forces Agreement (VFA) but now they will further maximize this and
increase US troop presence in the country, a member of the PH negotiating
panel for the EDCA even said that it may even allow tens of thousands of
US troops or even more depending on their so-called activities in the
country. So in truth the EDCA is a very deceptive, even destructive deal,”
said Rep. Zarate.
“This early we are already studying the option of questioning the EDCA at
the Supreme Court because it is a clear violation of our Constitution
particularly Sections 3 and 7 and possibly Section 8 of Article II. We are
also of the position that this is not a mere executive agreement but a
treaty and should be scrutinized by the Senate and the House of
Representatives,” added Rep. Colmenares.
“We must learn from history that the Filipino people ousted the bases in
1991 not only because its presence violates our sovereignty but they were
also magnets for attack from the many enemies of the United States. The
presence of US troops here will increase the tension in the region and
threatens its stability. We do not want to become another Iraq where the
US troops remained even if Saddam Hussein has long been dead. We should
stand against China’s uncalled for aggressive posturing but we should get
the support of the international community instead of the US,” ended Rep
US-PH EDCA worsens PH human rights
“Try harder in defending your human rights record, Pres. Aquino,” said
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, “because the people know the
real score of the human rights situation in the country under your regime.
And, with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement now signed, the human
rights situation is bound to get worse before it gets any better.”
Karapatan said, “For its puppetry to the US government, the Aquino regime
is guilty of treason for the US re-occupation of the Philippines and the
sell-out of the country’s sovereignty and through the EDCA. It is guilty
for the systematic human rights violations perpetrated under the Oplan
Bayanihan, and directed by the US through its Counterinsurgency Guide of
The US-Aquino regime is responsible for the 192 cases of extrajudicial
killings, 21 of these happened in the first quarter of 2014 alone; It is
responsible for the 21 enforced disappearances, 94 cases of torture, 631
cases of illegal arrest and detention, and for the almost 40,000
documented victims of forced evacuation. “The US-Aquino regime should be
held accountable for all of these," Palabay said.
"Obama’s visit is also a stamp of approval for the Aquino regime’s crime
of corruption against the Filipino people. Obama faced Aquino who is as
guilty as his men who are involved in carting away billions of pesos which
should have been used to uplift the lives of the poor Filipinos. Obama’s
visit legitimized the Aquino regime’s criminal negligence for the death of
thousands of Filipinos brought who were victims of typhoons Yolanda,
Pablo, Sendong,” she said.
Philippines, a party to US’s war mongering
“The US even used the typhoon and its impact to justify the EDCA. The EDCA
is nothing but a magnet for war, and not a mechanism for “peace and
friendship” as US president Obama claims it to be,” Palabay also said.
According to Palabay the US’s Asian pivot brings its interventionist wars
to Asia, "Like what it did to Haiti, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and many
other countries using different pretexts like "humanitarian aid",
"restoration of democracy", or "mutual assistance". This is the fate of
the Philippines and many other Asian countries,” Palabay cited.
"With EDCA, the Philippines becomes a party to US occupation and
intervention of other countries and the oppression and repression of the
struggling peoples of the world.” Throughout history, Palabay said, the US
government has been engaged in covert operations to assassinate, plot coup
d' etat, bomb communities, torture, and even supported terrorists to
secure its economic, politico-military interest in all parts of the
Karapatan cited the provocations of the US in the disputes between North
and South Korea and Israel and Pakistan to justify military assistance to
its allied countries; and how it sabotaged countries like Cuba, Bolivia
"The Filipino people, together with the rest of the struggling peoples of
the world, are ever more defiant to bring US imperialism down, including
its puppets like BS Aquino," Palabay concluded. ###
April 28, 2014
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Obama-Aquino war agenda hides behind peace and human
“With the aim to dissipate people’s anger around the world, the master
war-monger US President Barack Obama and his puppet Philippine President
Benigno Aquino desperately attempts to place out of sight its war agenda
by using the all-too-familiar shroud of“anti-corruption, pro-peace and
human rights” slogans. The catch phrases, the two expect, would lend a
veneer of acceptability to their treachery to the Filipino people,” said
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
“The US government cannot veer away from its record of intervention and
invasion of countries, which is actually what its Asian pivot is all
about,” said Palabay. “Obama and Aquino cannot camouflage the treachery
involved in the signing of the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement
(EDCA), which does not only violate the Philippine Constitution but is
also a sell-out of the nation’s sovereignty," Palabay added.
Karapatan said the US’s so-called concern on human rights abuses in the
Philippines is “duplicitous” as the “US is equally responsible as the BS
Aquino government for the said abuses through its military aid, deployment
of troops and a US-directed counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. The
US is the main funder of the AFP’s war chest.”
This year, the US Congress lifted restrictions in granting military aid to
the Philippines andapproved U$50 million, on top of the $40 million pledge
made by US State Secretary John Kerry’s in December 2013.In 2011, US
military aid was reduced to U$11 million from U$507 million in 2001-2010.
The cut was due to international pressure to stop the rampant killings in
the Philippines. In 2012, the US military aid rose to $30 million and has
since then increased steadily.
Human rights and peace
The increase in aid has emboldened the BS Aquino government and the Armed
Forces of the Philippines to go on a killing spree which resulted in 21
victims of extrajudicial killings and 23 victims of frustrated killings
for the first quarter of 2014 alone.
“This is actually the kind of peace the US-Aquino regime wants, nothing
more. The US-Aquino regime uses the surrender-or-get-arrested/killed
approach to peace negotiation with the National Democratic Front.The
inclusion of the CPP-NPA in the US list of terrorists is among the major
obstacles in the peace negotiation between the GPH and the NDFP. You
cannot talk peace with the NDFP if its peace consultants are killed,
abducted and missing or detained. You cannot talk about peace whenthe US
and PH governments use the militarist approach to derail the negotiations
on the substantive agenda on socio-economic and political reforms,” said
“Both Obama and Aquino are so adept at dangling human rights and peace
issues to prop up its image as it prepares for an increased and permanent
presence in the Philippines for its vaunted Asian pivot,” she said. ###
28 April 2014
On the eve of Obama visit:
From Balangiga to Tubbataha to EDCA: Obsequiousness like no other
How does the Philippines deal with decades of grievious abuse,
maltreatment, pillage and human rights violations? Without batting an
eyelash, with a toady welcome, and open arms for more.
The rushed US-PH agreement on expanded military basing rights is an
offertory to a master coming home to visit a glorified slave. The
Philippine government is drooling over Rambo idols and high-tech weaponry
and materiel that will make our land, air and seas playgrounds and
catapults for wars of aggression, intervention and plunder under the guise
of unreliable offers of protection against a fellow, yet relatively puny,
What does playing footsie with a pompous “frenemy” give us? Nothing but
indignity and ignominy. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)
spites, ridicules, and lays to waste the lessons learned from the sordid
tales from the howling wilderness of Samar, the gritty and seedy world of
Subic and Clark, and the damaged reefs of Tubbataha. Today the EDCA says
it will welcome back the US troops – but they never really left, did they?
US military presence in the Philippines, with or without legal grounds,
has been toxic all throughout time – it looted our precious heritage like
the Balangiga bells, killed millions of our people at the turn of the
century with the bloody Fil-American war, coached servile leaders one
after the other, propped up the fascist conjugal Marcos dictatorship till
the end, corrupted and exploited communities within and around the US
bases, raped and victimized our women, demonized freedom-fighters longing
for a truly just and lasting peace as "terrorists" and designed dirty wars
No wonder the US government is hated so much in so many places, and had to
make fortresses out of its embassies and consulates.
Yet for all the blood and tears, we’ve heard not much as a whimper from
our obsequious government, no demand for apology, reparations, no nothing
for all the pain and destruction, only perverse canonization typical of
sadomasochist subservience. The EDCA, on the contrary, enthusiastically
rubs salt over all the wounds and nearly promises to cause more.
The continued and continuing violation of the Philippine Constitution,
laws and public policies, principles of international law, sovereignty and
self-determination all the more remind us that we are slaves, insecure and
suffering, in our own land – alipin sa sariling bayan.
Together with other freedom- and peace-loving citizens, progressive and
democratic lawyers in the Philippines and abroad, take the EDCA, and the
mystery of non-disclosure of its terms, as a deep affront to our
independence and democracy that deserves its day in court, here and
Oppose Obama’s twin agenda of new
basing treaty and “chacha”—CPP
Communist Party of the Philippines
April 27, 2014
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today urged the Filipino
people to oppose the US’ twin agenda of forging a new basing treaty to
allow more US forces and their warships to be stationed in the Philippines
and securing the commitment of Aquino government officials to amend the
1987 constitution (chacha or charter change) in order to pave the way for
the participation of the Philippine government in negotiations for the
US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership trade block.
“The four-country Asia visit of US imperialist chief Barack Obama seeks to
boost its declared Asia pivot plan to deploy up to 60% of its overseas
naval forces to the Asia-Pacific to enable the US to project military
power in the region, secure the flow of US surplus goods to Asia and
contain the growth of China as a military power and challenger of US
hegemony,” said the CPP.
Obama will be arriving in the Philippines tomorrow after visiting Japan,
South Korea and Malaysia. Japan and South Korea are the sites of the
biggest US bases in Asia, hosting nearly 50,000 troops. Over the past five
years, the US imperialists have actively strengthened economic and
military ties with Malaysia which has allowed the US military to build up
its presence in the Malacca strait, the narrow sealane between the Indian
and Pacific Oceans where up to one-fourth of traded goods pass through.
“The visit of US imperialist chief Obama to the Philippine affirms the
neocolonial relations between the US government and the Philippine client
state currently headed by the Amboy president Benigno Aquino III,” said
“The puppet Aquino regime will be welcoming its master Obama with a pledge
allowing more US warships, jetfighters, drones and war troops to be
stationed in the Philippines, secure within US military facilities and
enclaves carved inside the military bases of the local armed forces,
upgraded to enable hosting of US war machines” said the CPP. “This pledge
will be affirmed with the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation
Agreement (EDCA) which will further deepen US military entrenchment in the
Philippines and in the Asia-Pacific.”
“The EDCA is no other than a military basing agreement as it will allow
the US military to maintain its facilities, station its troops for rest
and recreation, dock its sea vessels, land its jetfighters, operate its
spy drones and plan, prepare and launch operations, including power
projection maneuvers ang wars of aggression within and outside the
region,” said the CPP. The EDCA comes on top of the permanent basing of
the 700-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)
since 2002 within the AFP’s Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
“Aquino and his puppet officials will also be informing their master Obama
of the all-out efforts being undertaken to amend the 1987 Philippine
constitution in order to remove restrictions against full foreign
ownership of strategic economic enterprises and a prohibition on
foreigners practicing their professions in the country,” said the CPP.
“The Obama government has made it crystal clear to the Aquino regime that
it needs to amend the Philippine 1987 constitution in order to participate
in talks to build the US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
(TPP),” said the CPP. The US position for amending the Philippine
constitution was publicly declared by then US Ambassador Harry Thomas in
2011 and is contained in the book Arangkada! commissioned by the American
Chamber of Commerce which asserts that the removal of restrictions against
foreign ownership of land and enterprises is the key to raising so-called
“The EDCA and chacha serve to virtually reestablish US colonial rule in
the Philippines,” said the CPP. “The Filipino people must vigorously
protest the visit of US imperialist chief Obama. Through the EDCA and
chacha, the Aquino regime perpetuates and strengthens US military and
economic domination in the Philippines, further undermines Philippine
sovereignty and makes a complete mockery of so-called Philippine
Confront Obama’s visit and US military
basing with protests!
On April 28, Barack Obama, current US imperialist chief
will be visiting the country to inaugurate the newest military agreement
between the US and the Philippines. After a series of meetings since
March, US and Philippine government and military officials finalized the
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on April 11.
The US and the Philippines first began negotiations for the new agreement
in January 2011, right after the US announced plans to “pivot” towards
Asia and declared the New Pacific Century. With the declaration, the US
considers as key to the US’ recovery from crisis the strengthening of
trade and investments in Asia through a stronger military presence in the
The US’ planned “pivot” involves deploying to Asia up to 60% of its naval
forces and 50% of its land forces abroad. This is equivalent to
maintaining hundreds of thousands of troops in various parts of Asia. In
this manner, it could project its military strength at any time and in any
place in the region.
Also part of the US “pivot” to Asia is the forging of regional and
bilateral agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific to facilitate
coordination. The US estimates that the “pivot” would be completed in the
In the past three years, US warships, jetfighters and armed troops have
been arriving in the Philippines with greater frequency and in greater
numbers. In 2012, warships docked at Philippine ports at least 80 times,
growing to 150 in 2013 and even more often in succeeding years.
Aside from rotational US military troops, there are 700 American soldiers
comprising the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)
permanently stationed in an exclusive area within the AFP Western
Command’s Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City since 2002.
To justify the growing US military presence in the Philippines and the
launching of military exercises in various parts of Asia, the US has been
stoking diplomatic tensions regarding multi-country claims to islands and
land formations in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands and
Scarborough Shoal. Benigno Aquino III’s government has played a distinct
role in this fracas by taking the lead in hurling verbal challenges at
Aquino and the US government have invoked “tensions with China” to justify
the growing US presence in the Philippines. The Aquino regime portrays the
US as a “friend” of the Philippines regarding the conflict with China.
Aquino’s officials have also been claiming that under the 1956 Mutual
Defense Treaty, the US has an “obligation” to support the Philippines once
conflict erupts in the South China Sea.
While the US continues to strengthen its military
relations with China (which includes its participation in the Rim of
Pacific Exercise or RIMPAC in June), it also repeatedly states that it
would “come to the aid of its friend,” to the delight of its gullible
puppets in the Philippines. In fact, the ruling monopoly bureaucrat
capitalist class in China is a close ally of US imperialism, even if the
US keeps a watchful eye on and blocks China’s growth and domination over
The US and Philippine governments began to frame the EDCA to lay down the
legal basis for the continued and growing US military presence in the
Philippines. Described as an aid to strenghening the country’s maritime
security, it is anchored on, and is an elaboration of, the Mutual Defense
Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Military Logistics Support
To justify the EDCA, the US military presence in the Philippines is
likewise presented as an adjunct of “other security-related issues” such
as “humanitarian aid/disaster response” or HA/DR. The US strengthened the
HA/DR aspect of the agreement after it was able to invoke it to justify
the mass deployment of its troops and military hardware. In one example,
the US’ biggest warship docked in Leyte Gulf in November 2013 in the name
of providing assistance to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
The US will be invoking this same provision to justify plans to bring in
its troops to Eastern Visayas under the cloak of Pacific Partnership 2014,
a naval exercise to be held in Tacloban City and nearby areas in June.
After months of negotiations, EDCA’s details remain secret. With the
limited information being shared by Aquino officials, its contents will
likely contain the following:
1) the US military will be allowed to maintain bases or enclaves within
military camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines;
2) US military forces will enjoy more extensive rights
and authority to use any facility, especially seaports and airports, to
achieve a “minimum credible defense” against “Chinese aggression”
regarding Philippine territories in the South China Sea; and
3) the US military will be able to conduct military exercises and
operations anywhere in the Philippines in the name of “humanitarian
Thus, the EDCA is no other than an agreement that formally restores the US
military bases. Under it, the US military will be enjoying exclusive
access to military facilities for docking, landing and stationing its
vehicles, equipment and military troops within the country. It revives the
hated Military Bases Agreement of 1946 that enabled the US to maintain its
huge military bases in the country until 1991.
The EDCA violates Philippine national sovereignty anew and paves the way
for further US military domination and control over the country’s
political, military, diplomatic and economic affairs.
1) What is “troop rotation” and “increased rotational presence?”
ONE of the key issues in the new treaty involves the Philippines’ grant of
permission to the US to maintain permanent troop presence in the country
in the guise of “troop rotation.” Combat troops, warships and warplanes
take turns maintaining their presence in areas covered by US military
Within the frame of the US’ “Asia pivot,” US troops, warships and
warplanes will be maintaining “increased rotational presence” in the
Asia-Pacific region. A major aspect involves the deployment of 60% of its
entire naval fleet to the region, from the current 50-50 division between
the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
The more frequent and numerous dockings of US warships in the Philippines
has been going on since 2010. A US Navy report states that up to 51 of its
warships docked in various ports in the country in 2010; fifty-four in
2011; eighty-eight in 2012; and seventy-two in the first half of 2013
Simultaneously, military troops will be massively deployed in various
bases and base-like facilities in the Asia-Pacific, mainly in Australia
(Darwin), Singapore (Changi Bay) and South Korea (Jeju Island) through a
series of “port visits,” military exercises and other activities.
In the Philippines, the US plans to maintain 4,000-5,000 troops in various
local seaports, airports and “joint operational bases.” These will
comprise rotational forces and units, including US Marines and Navy
elements previously based in Okinawa, Japan and now based temporarily in
2) Why will permanent military bases and facilities be
built by American troops in the Philippines if all they will be
maintaining is their rotational presence?
A Requisite for the US’ “increased rotational presence” is the existence
of permanent facilities for the US military’s exclusive use as docking and
landing areas for its growing number of warships and warplanes, and areas
with which to station its combat troops for rest and recreation and store
its fuel, weapons and equipment.
In actuality, the American troops will be staying in
various seaports and exclusive enclaves being prepared for them within AFP
military camps. US documents call these “access locations” or “cooperative
security locations” in older papers.
Such an arrangement is highly similar to the current arrangement between
the US and the Philippines regarding the 700 rotational troops of the US
Special Forces based at the headquarters of the Joint Special Operations
Task Force-Philippines (formerly the Joint Task Force-510 of the Special
Operations Command, Pacific) in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City. Although the
American troops are here on a rotational basis, they maintain permanent
facilities within the camp that could not be easily accessed by Filipino
The US Special Forces have also been maintaining facilities in Camp
Malagutay in Malagutay and Camp Andrew Air Base in Sta. Maria, both in
Zamboanga City; Camp General Bautista in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu; and at the
Philippine Naval Station in Batu-Bato, Panglima, Sugala, Tawi Tawi. Local
residents call these facilities “American camps” and US public documents
identify them as “small bases.”
With the help of its puppet states in Asia, the US plans to build or
repair bases/airports/ seaports that could be used by its troops on short
notice as staging areas, depots for equipment and troops or for resting. A
report prepared for the US Army Pacific Command states that in Southeast
Asia alone, there are 50 such locations that can be used for these
purposes. Among these are old and small airports and seaports and military
camps and bases that the US was able to use under the Military Bases
3) Which camps and facilities are being prepared by the US-Aquino regime
for US troops?
EVEN before the new agreement could be finalized, the Aquino regime had
already begun construction on new airports and seaports and repairing
camps and other military facilities in the name of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines Modernization Plan.
Officials of the US-Aquino rehime claim that the modernization of Subic
and Clark is being done in preparation for the transfer of the Philippine
Navy and Philippine Air Force headquarters. Nonetheless, the regime’s
military officers openly admit that changes being made in the two former
bases are focused on servicing US troops, ships and planes and those of
its allies (like Japan and India; and lately, South Korea through a
parallel military agreement). An estimated `10 billion is needed to
modernize Subic alone.
The US has been pushing for access to other airports and seaports for the
“refuelling and repair” of its ships and planes. Among these are Poro
Point in La Union, Sangley Point in Cavite and commercial ports in the
cities of Laoag, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. The US also wants similar
facilities in Batanes; Sta. Ana, Cagayan; General Santos City; and Cebu
City to be open for use. These seaports and airports form part of a
network of facilities that could be reached by their warships from Guam in
five days or less.
At the same time, the US itself has been modernizing camps that its troops
have been using often. In 2011, then US Ambassador Harry Thomas boasted
that the US has provided `200 million in military assistance to the Aquino
regime to modernize various AFP camps, including `42 million for the
construction of barracks, toilet facilities and mess halls at Basa Air
Base in Pampanga and `25 million to repair roads inside Fort Magsaysay
(headquarters of the 7th ID) in Nueva Ecija. These two camps are regularly
used as venues for US military exercises.
The US plans to permanently base several battalions of US Marines, Navy
and Air Force (1,500+ troops) in Subic Bay and Clark Air Base (200) to
support the growing number of rotational troops in the region for joint
exercises and military operations, among others.
The US likewise plans to build an “advance command post” in Palawan and
maintain an undersize company from the Marine Special Operations Battalion
(60-70 troops) in the area. The plan includes the formation of a “joint
command” with the Philippine Marine Corps Reservation in Samariniana,
Brooke’s Point in Palawan and extending an airstrip inside from 1
kilometer to 2.4 kilometers to accommodate US warplanes. It will also
repair an airstrip in Balabac, southern Palawan formerly used by the US in
World War II.
The plan likewise includes the construction (already made public) of a
naval base in Oyster Bay, which is just a few kilometers away from the
protected Underground River, for the use of US warships. Alongside
Filipino soldiers, the US had already begun construction on a naval base
in the guise of launching the 13th Philippines-US Amphibious Landing
Exercise or PHIBLEX 13 in October 2012. The `500 million used for the
construction of the so-called Little Subic was sourced from the AFP
The US also plans to build “joint operational bases” in Ulugan Bay in
Macarascas town and in Tarumpitao Point in Rizal town, both in Palawan.
Within the frame of the “joint command” and of building a “joint
operational base” (also known as “base-sharing”), hundreds of American
soldiers will be able to undertake long-term basing in the guise of “troop
rotation” without directly admitting to permanently basing foreign troops
in the country.
In the guise of conducting relief and rehabilitation in areas devastated
by typhoon Yolanda last year, the US has now been using Guiuan Military
Airbase in Eastern Samar anew, which it built during the Second World War.
4) Why is it important for the US to “pivot” towards Asia?
THE Asian region is important to the US. The world’s two biggest economies
can be found here (India and China). So can the two biggest importers of
US goods—Japan and the ASEAN bloc composed of ten small countries. The two
sea routes (the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea) used for 70% of
maritime commerce in the Pacific are in Southeast Asia.
The biggest markets for US weapons and other military equipment are also
in the Asia-Pacific (Australia and South Korea). The US sold up to $10
billion worth of firearms to India in the past decade and plans to further
expand its share of the market.
In addition, the US needs in a major way to confront China, one of the
biggest threats to its economic and military domination of Asia. Its
“pivot” towards Asia and its calculated military priorities play a
particular role in asserting more neoliberal changes in the Chinese
economy in the US’ desire to gain more advantages for big American
capitalist investors in China.
In strengthening its presence in Asia, the US actively thwarts China’s
attempts to rule trade and investments as a sole power or set itself up as
a regional leader both economically and militarily among countries in the
5) What has the “pivot” so far achieved?
THE US is still in the process of laying the requisites for continually
shifting its forces to Asia, which it estimates will be completed in 2020.
Last year, it began rotating a number of Marine battalions in its base in
Darwin, Australia. The US is still in the process of negotiating with
Australia on the opening of its other military camps to the presence of
American forces, repairing a seaport for the docking of nuclear-powered
aircraft carriers, and using some of its islands as launching pads for
warplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
In Singapore, four LCS allegedly being used by the US for HA/DR have
already begun rotation, with the ships staying for as long as six months
in Changi Bay. At the same time, Singapore has opened to the US the use of
the nearby airport for aircraft repairs and refuelling.
In 2011, the US signed a related agreement on “maritime security” with
Indonesia that led to the launching of 140 “military exercises” within the
In 2012, the US and Vietnam forged a military treaty that allegedly
covered maritime security, “search and rescue operations,” “peacekeeping
operations” and HA/DR.
Meanwhile, the US continues to deploy troops in various parts of the
region in the name of joint military exercises, special operations and
Cobra Gold, one of the biggest and longest military exercises in the
region, continues to be conducted in Thailand.
In 2013, the US launched one of the biggest “military exercises” along the
South Korea-North Korea border. These provocations led to North Korea’s
revocation of the armistice agreement it signed and its declaration of a
state of war between the two countries.
In Japan, a newly built US radar facility was inaugurated on April 20. The
military facility is part of the US Missile Defense in Asia.
Nature of American rotational troops in the
THE majority of the military forces to be deployed in
Southeast Asia “on rotation” have already been assigned to the region in
the past. Foremost among them is the Seventh Fleet, the biggest “forward
deployed” US force. Formerly stationed at the Subic Naval Base in Olongapo
City, it currently maintains a permanent base in Okinawa, Japan.
The Seventh Fleet comprises 60-70 ships, 300 combat planes and helicopters
and 40,000 Marines and Navy forces. Its flagship is the USS George
Washington, a nuclear-capable aircraft carrier that has docked several
times in the Philippines in the past two years.
These troops are US assault forces. The Seventh Fleet has a long record of
intervention and combat in Asia, including Korea, Laos, Thailand and
Vietnam; and lately, in the US wars of aggression in the Middle East. The
US began reducing its troops in Okinawa and transferring them since 2007
due to the Japanese people’s widespread hatred for the heinous crimes
committed by American soldiers against children and women.
In December 2013, the US and Japan’s reactionary state agreed to close
down the Futenma Base in Okinawa housing tens of thousands of US Marines
and transfer them elsewhere on the island. Eight thousand US Marines will
also be transferred to Guam, Hawaii and other areas.
The “pivot to Asia” in military terms
IN military terms, increasing the US naval force means
adding one aircraft carrier, seven destroyers and its attached amphibious
sea vessels, ten Littoral Combat Ships (LCS or ships that sail along the
shores) and two submarines in the waters of the Asia-Pacific. About 60% of
US Air Force elements stationed overseas will also be positioned in the
region, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) currently being used for
combat and surveillance in Afghanistan and new warplanes. It will also
mean deploying 60% of the US’ space and internet capability to the region.
Likewise, it will mean deploying 60% of the US’ space and internet
capability to the Asia-Pacific.
In addition, some 60,000 troops previously stationed in Afghanistan will
be transferred to Asia while maintaining the previous number of American
troops in the region. The bulk of these forces will be stationed in Guam
At present, there are 325,000 US military and civilian forces based in
Asia under the US Pacific Command (PACOM). US PACOM covers the entire
India-Asia-Pacific region from the coast of California to the
PACOM comprises 1) two big fleets with 180 ships, 2,000 airplanes and
140,000 troops; 2) a 74,000-strong Marine Corps troop; 3) an Air Force
troop with 40,000 pilots in nine bases, with 300 airplanes; 5) an Army
troop with 60,000 personnel and groups of special forces conducting
operations in 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific.