Protests greet Obama in Manila,
BAYAN slams treachery in signing of defense pact
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Day One    ■  Day Two

 

April 29,  2014

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Photos by Enteng Bautista, Obet De Castro, C.J. Despuez,  Agapito Gaddi,
Southern Tagalog Exposure, Antonio Tinio and Raymund Villanueva
 
           
     
     
     

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Mensahe nina Benito Tiamzon
at Wilma Austria sa Pagdalaw ni Obama
28 Abril 2014

Sa pagdalaw ng imperyalistang panginoong si Obama, ang kanyang dala ay tanikala, hindi pakikipagkaibigan; ligalig, hindi kapayapaan; pasismo, hindi demokrasya. Lubos kaming nakikiisa sa makabayan at progresibong mamamayan sa pagtutol at pagkondena dito.

Nangingibabaw na layunin ni Obama ang pagsasara sa Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), ang sikretong kasunduang militar para sa lalong pinalawak na presensiya at paggamit ng mga tropang US sa mga kampo ng AFP at teritoryo ng Pilipinas, sa gayon, iiral ang epektibo—epektibong pang-mission-critical—pero nakadisimula at murang halagang pagbabase dito ng mga pwersang pandigma ng US. Ikakasa ang Pilipinas bilang isang sentro ng rebalancing ng US sa Asia at pakikipagribalan ng US sa Tsina.

Ang EDCA ay tanikala ng pagkaalipin na ipinupulupot ng US at papet na rehimeng Aquino sa leeg ng bansa. Ito ay tahasang pagtalikod sa matayog na mga adhikain para sa pambansang soberaniya at dignidad na nag-udyok sa istorikong desisyon ng 1991 na paalisin ang mga baseng militar ng US. Ito ay tatak ng pagpapakabusabos, kataksilan at kahihiyan.

Hindi magpipikit ng mata ang sambayanang Pilipino sa bagong pananakop na ito ng imperyalismong US. Hindi sila papayag na maging sunud-sunurang instrumento para tiyakin ang solong dominasyon ng US sa Asia-Pasipiko at proteksyunan ang mga imperyalistang interes nito.

Hindi papayag ang sambayanang Pilipino na maging collateral damage lamang sa mga disenyong militar ng US. Lalong hindi papayag ang sambayanang Pilipino na manghimasok ang imperyalismong US laban sa makabayan at demokratikong armadong paglaban ng bayan para kamtin ang tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya.

Iluluwal ng pakikibakang bayan ang makapangyarihang unos na anti-imperyalista na nasa makabayang tradisyon ng Katipunan, nina Makario Sakay, Sumuroy, Dagohoy at mga pag-aalsa ng Balangiga at Catobig. Tungkulin ng mga makabayan at progresibong pwersa na:

· Buuin ang pinakamalapad na anti-imperyalistang nagkakaisang hanay upang sagkaan at labanan ang EDCA.
· Ilantad ang tunay na katangian at layunin ng EDCA. Ilantad ang mga pagpapanggap at panlilinlang ng imperyalismong US.
· Papanagutin ang sagad-sa-buto na tutang rehimeng B.S. Aquino sa panibagong kataksilan nito sa bayan.

Obama, Layas!
Mga tropang US, Layas!
Itakwil ang taksil at tutang-tutang rehimeng B.S. Aquino!

(Nilagdaan)
Wilma Austria Tiamzon
NDFP National Consultant
ND 978226

(Nilagdaan)
Benito E. Tiamzon
NDFP National Consultant
ND978227

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

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US officials have described the region as crucial to its economic and strategic interests, and which will yield huge returns in US investments

By IBON FEATURES
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Philippine officials say US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines, the final leg in a series that includes Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, intends to deepen and strengthen US-Philippine bilateral ties. The Obama visit is part of US efforts to increase its comprehensive engagement with countries in the Asia Pacific region. He and President Aquino are set to tackle economic and security cooperation, including the modernization of the two countries’ defense alliance as well as efforts to expand economic ties and spark economic growth through the Partnership for Growth (PfG).

The Philippines has been relying on its relationship with the US amid its recent territorial row with the Chinese government. Analysts have expressed that the scenario of an actual military conflict between China and the Philippines could possibly only being stoked, as they note US efforts to strengthen its own ties with China. Regardless of any US-Philippines defense pact, critics have stated that there is no guarantee the US will fight side by side with the Philippines should the dispute with China intensify.

While China’s growing economic and military power in Asia Pacific poses a threat on US economic and military influence in the region on one hand, the latter’s prolonged economic crisis and weak recovery, on the other hand, is the compelling reason behind the US pivot to Asia Pacific. In her essay America’s Pacific Century, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton described the region is central to US economic and strategic interests; and that it will yield the biggest returns in US investments, whether economically, politically or diplomatically. In its greater involvement in Asia Pacific affairs, it is apparent that the US aims to strengthen its domination in the region and to maximize opportunities for trade and investment.

US, global economic crisis

Along with other developed countries, the US is experiencing a prolonged economic crisis that is described as worse than the Great Depression. From 2008-2012, average real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in fast-developing Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) was higher than that of US, Germany, France, UK, Japan and Italy.

In a span of one and a half decades, US economic growth rate has performed weakly, starting at 4.1% in 2000, falling steeply the next year, peaking only at 3.8% in 2004, plunging to a low -2.8% in 2009 and reaching 2.8% in 2012. It averaged at a lower 1.9% in 2013. Some of these figures are comparable to the sub-three percent-level growth rates that began in 1929. From the 1980s to 2012, US GDP growth remained almost constantly below China and the rest of Asia Pacific’s accelerating growth.

US unemployment is increasing at 4.62% in 2007 to 7.35% in 2013. The number of US citizens in poverty in 2011 at 46.2 million or the 15% poverty rate would be the US’ worst case of poverty since 1959. This period also counts eight instances of recession or consecutive years of continued slowdown in economic activity. The share of workers’ wages in the economy has likewise fallen from 48% in the late 1970s to barely 43% in 2012, while, for the same period, corporate profits rose from more than 7% to 11%. The US is also faced with the worst income inequality ever in a century.

Meanwhile, the percentage share of US GDP in the global economy fell from the 1990s to 2012 as opposed to that of China, which increased in the same period. Reaching US$1.4 trillion in 2011, China’s merchandise exports have also outpaced that of the US and Germany. From forming just 1.8% of the global total of merchandise exports in 1990, China’s global share of merchandise exports grew to 11.5% in 2012.

While gradually resorting to protect its own economy through greater regulation of trade with other countries, the US has strategized entrenching its hegemony in Asia Pacific for the region’s remarkable place in global economy and geopolitics.

US Asia Pacific offensive

Control of the Asia Pacific region is economically important to the US. The region is home to two of the three largest economies in the world aside from the US: China and Japan. The three largest populations in the world can also be found in Asia Pacific, counting 2.2 billion people in China, India and Indonesia. The world’s busiest trade corridors would also be in Asia Pacific, namely: 33% of bulk cargo and 66% of all oil shipments passing through nine of the world’s 10 largest ports in the region including those in Shanghai, HongKong, Singapore and Busan.

The region accounts for 30% of global GDP. Almost one-third of total US exports went to Asia Pacific countries from 1990-2012. US direct investments in the region amount to US$651 billion. US debt to China and Japan, as of January 2014, amount to US$1.27 trillion and US$1.2 trillion, respectively. Through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the US is able to course its economic agenda to 21 member countries covering 40% of the world’s population, 56% of global GDP, 44% of global trade and 60% of total US trade.

Military, diplomatic and economic strategies are all in place for US offensive in the region. Its military strategy spans forces disposition and logistics agreements, military pacts, joint exercises, disaster response, troop deployments and bases installations, ensuring US presence while invoking greater security ties and shared security interests with Asia Pacific countries. It engages the region diplomatically through multilateral institutions such as the APEC, the East Asia Summit and the Association of East Asian Nations with promises of contributing to good governance and championing democracy. Economically, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank continue as US conduits for development mostly through conditional loans and aid.

Through regional free trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asia Pacific countries, the US continues to expand its market opportunities by encouraging economies to open up more to accommodate its business interests. Meanwhile, its Partnership for Growth with the Philippines has identified areas in Philippine policy that need to be loosened-up in order to allow greater US participation in the economy, such as the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution that limit foreign equity in key sectors and industries. Through former US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas, the US has also recommended the removal of such restrictions in order for the Philippines to be accepted into the TPP. The Arangkada Philippines 2010 put together by foreign chambers of commerce recommends the same for Philippine economic development.

Obama’s visit also intends to deepen the economic clout of the US over its former colony by pushing for a more favorable trade and investment regime for American firms in the country. This shall continue the more than a century of US dominance over the local economy at the expense of its own domestic industries and national development.

With a combined Php930.73 billion, US companies accounted for 30% of the total gross revenues, pegged at P3.14 trillion, of all foreign firms in the Top 1000 list in 2013. Japanese firms followed with 26% or Php807.74 billion. There were only 64 US-based corporations that landed in the Top 1000 compared to more than a hundred Japanese companies, further highlighting the dominant position of US capitalists. In terms of gross revenues, the five largest US-based companies operating in the Philippines are Texas Instruments, Chevron, Philip Morris, Coca Cola, and SunPower. Together they account for 51% of the gross revenues generated by American firms in the Top 1000.

The operation of US and other foreign companies demonstrates how and why the economy remains backward and underdeveloped. Their role in export-oriented, import-dependent assembly of low value-added manufactures and in the exploration, development and utilization of strategic natural resources remains significant.

Philippine experience shows that despite pronounced objectives championing shared security interests, democracy, development and economic opportunities, partnership with the US – along with the continued adherence to failed neoliberal economic policies – has yielded unequal benefits.

People of the world have time and again asserted independence and the will to determine their own political development and economic agenda, as well as the capacity to forge ties with other nations on the basis of mutual respect, cooperation and benefit. In engaging with the US and other countries, the Philippines – or any nation—should ensure first and foremost its sovereign will to nurture and nourish its own people and the country’s human and natural wealth by strengthening its local economic backbone and making these its primary sources of development. (Ibon Features)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/04/29/in-crisis-why-the-us-is-pivoting-to-asia-pacific/#sthash.K1l5Lkjg.dpuf

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
March to the US Embassy
     
           
     
     
     

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APRIL 29, 2014

US-PH Relations: Reinforcing Colonial Ties

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US is the latest indicator of a resurgent neo-colonialism over the past years

By SONNY AFRICA
IBON FEATURES
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — The Philippine government is on the brink of reaching a new agreement with the United States on an even greater American military presence in the country. If sealed, the pact will only be the latest step in the country’s steady regression into greater neo-colonialism over the past 12 years. But it will still be notable for overtly subordinating the Philippines to the US and supporting US militarism in the Asia-Pacific.

Negotiations on a framework agreement on “increased rotational presence/enhanced defense cooperation” started in August 2013 and are expected to conclude before or around the Philippine visit of US Pres. Barack Obama next week. The larger US military presence is fully supported by the Philippine government but legitimizing this is made difficult by a Constitutional ban on foreign military bases and nuclear weapons in the country and by contentious issues of sovereignty. There is also a degree of public opposition stemming from a record of abuses by US soldiers during and after the era of formal US bases in the country.

The agreement is in line with the military aspect of the US’s declared ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalance’ to the Asia-Pacific due to the region’s growing strategic economic and geopolitical significance. The region has seven of the world’s 10 largest standing militaries, five of the world’s eight nuclear powers, and the four countries with the world’s largest and most advanced navies. The US is particularly concerned about an increasingly assertive China, which counts among all these. After decades of increasingly rapid growth, China’s economy has become the second largest in the world after the US which, on the other hand, has been slowing down.

‘Pacific Century’

The Asia-Pacific is an economically significant region. It contains the world’s three largest economies and the three largest countries by population. One-third of the world’s bulk cargo and two-thirds of its oil shipments transits through the region which has nine of the world’s 10 largest ports; this is more trade than passes through the Atlantic. The Asia-Pacific is projected to account for up to 40-50% of global growth until 2030. The US has a significant stake and is the region’s biggest foreign investor with US$651.3 billion in 2012.

These are objective conditions for heightened US attention. The Pentagon has declared that 60% of overseas US military naval and air assets will be shifted to the region by 2020. This includes carrier strike groups, submarines, aircraft and bombers including forces for projecting power across and beyond the Indo-Pacific. The Philippines is militarily strategic — a US military response from the country to anywhere in East Asia takes less than a fifth of the time as that from the US mainland.

The agreement being negotiated correspondingly means to increase the number of US military personnel in the Philippines and to extend their deployments, position war materiel and supplies, allow US facilities to be built, and enable the use of domestic military installations. This bigger and more sustained troop presence has also been opportunistically packaged as enabling quicker disaster response and humanitarian work — especially after the devastation of Super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) — but this is only sugarcoating of underlying military objectives.

The US has 265 overseas bases in 41 countries, logistics agreements with 76 countries, and status of forces agreements with 121 countries. It also has 164,227 active military personnel deployed in 152 foreign countries, aside from another 1.2 million stationed in the US and its territories. This is not a passive military presence. 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 1945. The most violent of these acts of aggression have already resulted in some 17-28 million civilian deaths in 35 nations. Direct US military action in 11 countries has caused 7-13 million deaths while US-supported or -instigated armed conflicts in 24 other countries have resulted in another 10-15 million deaths.

As it is the Philippines already has the largest US military presence in East Asia and the Pacific, next to Japan, which hosts the most US soldiers worldwide. It has the 12th largest deployments out of some 150 countries worldwide hosting US forces.

Some 500-1,000 special forces personnel have been continuously present in Mindanao since January 2002 via a Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines which was created for military operations under Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines. There are also up to 6,500 more troops who come annually for various military exercises across the country.

The Philippine government has already started playing its role in US maneuvering to contain China and justified the pact as bolstering its defense against the territorial threat of China in disputed areas of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines is arguably the focal point of the US re-balance to the region. It is the most militarily strategic country in Southeast Asia. Its government and military is also historically, as a former colony, and currently very friendly to the US. It is one of the largest recipients of US aid in Southeast Asia — at US$1.5 billion just over the last decade 2005-2014, of which US$521 million is overtly military and security aid. This is despite the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary arms being involved in thousands of human rights violations over that period. Aid flows have been increasing since the Philippines was declared a front-line state of the US in its self-declared “war on terrorism” in 2001 and a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2003.

US economic policy in PH

US intervention in domestic affairs goes far beyond the military aspect. From June 1998 to September 2001, the US government directly crafted domestic economic policy through the US$25 million USAID project Accelerating Growth Investment and Liberalization with Equity which had “satellite offices” in 11 key government and quasi-government agencies and produced at least ten major economic laws.

This was followed by the 4-year USAID-funded The Arangkada Philippines Project which published its advocacy paper in December 2010.The American Chamber of Commerce administers the project which lobbies Congress to implement 471 policy recommendations of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines. For instance, all the various nationalist provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution are mentioned as inhibiting foreign capital and thus needing to be creatively bypassed, reformed, revised or removed.

The Partnership for Growth initiative formally started in November 2011 where the Philippines is one of only four countries that the US has a partnership with. The US and Philippine governments analyzed the supposed constraints to economic growth, drew up economic policy solutions, and is jointly implementing these. Among the results of this process is the current push to amend the Philippine Constitution, which the US government has long scored for what it sees as restrictive provisions on foreign investment, and to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade deal.

There has also been extensive US bilateral “democracy assistance” in electoral processes, good governance practices, anti-corruption reforms, building the legal system, assisting law enforcement agencies, promoting a free press, local governance and decentralization. These have been through USAID and also through State Department-funded organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and The Asia Foundation.

The US colonial period lasted from 1898 to 1946. For a brief moment after the closure of the US bases in the Philippines in 1992, it seemed possible that the country was freeing itself from its neo-colonial bondage. Recent years including under the current Aquino administration however signify a resurgent neo-colonialism and the persistent subordination and underdevelopment that inevitably accompanies this. (Ibon Features)

- See more at:
http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/04/29/us-ph-relations-reinforcing-colonial-ties/#sthash.EfUtQTH2.dpuf

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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PRIL 29, 2014

Obama visit: Greater US economic intervention

While much of the discussion about renewed PH-US relations centers on the military aspect, there is also the equally crucial, if not even more far-reaching, economic dimension of the US pivot to the region

By ARNOLD PADILLA
IBON FEATURES
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — US President Barack Obama’s visit underlines the increased bilateral engagement between the Philippines and the US. It comes at a time when US foreign policy is increasingly focused on the region under its so-called pivot to Asia Pacific. The visit, which follows a series of high-profile exchange of visits between top Filipino and American Executive and Defense officials since 2010, is controversial amid the signing of a new agreement between Manila and Washington to increase rotational presence of American troops in the country or basing privileges and the still ongoing territorial spat with China.

While much of the discussion about the pivot and renewed PH-US relations centers on the military aspect, there is also the equally crucial, if not even more far-reaching, economic dimension of the pivot. Under the Obama and Aquino presidencies, mechanisms to facilitate further reforms in the economy that promotes US economic interests are steadily being set up through US foreign assistance programs such as the comprehensive, multi-donor Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative. Silently, the PFG and other US efforts are setting the stage for an even more wide-ranging and systematic US intervention in the country’s internal policy making.

PH dependence on US economy

The US has been able to perpetuate Philippine dependence on the US economy. American investors remain the biggest source of net foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Philippines. From 1999 to 2012, net FDI from the US reached US$4.52 billion, accounting for 19.8% of the total during the period. Last year, US net FDI was pegged at US$784.74 billion or 38.6% of the total, and 248.9% higher than the figure in 2011, at a time when investments from Japan, the European Union (EU), Asean and others have sharply declined.

Through the decades, the US has spent substantial amounts to sustain and deepen its clout. Disbursements of bilateral official development assistance (ODA) from the US for the Philippines from 1999 to 2011 reached US$1.12 billion, 20.9% of total disbursements during the said period and the second largest behind Japan. However, while ODA disbursements from Japan have been considerably falling since the 2008 global financial and economic crisis, bilateral US aid during the same period has steadily increased, growing by an annual 18.5% from 2009 to 2011. Under the Obama administration and its announced pivot to Asia Pacific, disbursements of bilateral US economic aid have substantially increased. From an annual average of US$108.12 million and a yearly growth of 4.6% from 2001 to 2008, US bilateral economic aid to the Philippines jumped to an annual average of US$152.23 million and a yearly expansion of more than 18% from 2009 to 2011.

More US intervention, neoliberal reforms

While already expanding, US assistance to the Philippines is anticipated to further increase with the introduction by the Obama administration of new initiatives that facilitate greater US intervention in the country. Requested US aid for the Philippines for fiscal year 2014 is pegged at US$188 million, 17.1% higher than the base appropriation for fiscal year 2013.

One such new initiative is the Partnership for Growth (PFG), a signature inter-agency effort of Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which claims to “elevate economic growth in countries committed to good governance as a core priority for US development efforts”. The PFG supposedly aligns with policy reform areas outlined by President Aquino in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). The PFG is defined by the active participation and coordination of more than a dozen US government agencies led by the State Department, USAID and the MCC as well as multilateral donors like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN) agencies and even non-government organizations (NGOs) and private corporations.

A Statement of Principles was signed by both countries during the November 2011 Manila visit of then State Secretary Hilary Clinton. The document reflects the two governments’ supposed mutual goal to place the Philippines on a path to sustained, more inclusive economic growth, and elevate it to the ranks of high-performing emerging economies. For the US, the PFG will better position the Philippines in its objective of joining the TPP in the future.

Under the PFG, the US intends to deepen its role in national policy making such as through the five-year Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP) which identified priority areas for policy reforms in the Philippines, including trade and investment liberalization, deregulation, effective enforcement of contracts with private business (such as those engaging in PPP) as well as fiscal and judicial reforms.

An example of how US steers internal policy making is the PFG’s centerpiece program in the Philippines, which is the $433.91-million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC). The MCC is a highly conditional aid and requires the Philippines to, among others, maintain so-called “economic freedom” to continue receiving the grant. For instance, one of the indicators of economic freedom, as designed by the MCC, is the Trade Policy Indicator which measures the country’s openness to international trade based on average tariff rates and non-tariff barriers (e.g. trade quotas, production subsidies, government procurement procedures, anti-dumping, local content requirements, etc.) to trade. The “Compact” or agreement between the Philippine government and MCC is that the latter may suspend or terminate the grant if the country fails to reverse its policies that are inconsistent with the Trade Policy Indicator and other indicators designed by the MCC.

‘Arangkada’

Last year, USAID and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) launched the The Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP) as part of the implementation of the PFG. Through the USAID-funded TAPP, AmCham will push for the implementation of the policy proposals contained in the comprehensive advocacy paper “Arangkada Philippines 2010: A business perspective” prepared by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFC), of which AmCham is a key member.

The JFC paper listed 471 specific recommendations that promote the interest of foreign corporations in the country through greater liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization while intensifying the attack to the rights and welfare of the people.

Among others, their proposals are to: amend the Labor Code to allow subcontracting and easier termination of employees; promote IT-BPO curriculum in colleges and education reform, adopt K+12 model; lift restrictions on foreign ownership in media and advertising; promote tie-ups with foreign firms; protect PPP investors from political (i.e. regulatory) risks including TROs from courts; scrap ‘unwarranted’ taxes on foreign carriers; lift restrictions on foreign equity in power projects; privatize Agus and Pulangi dams; build more transport infrastructure through PPP; review policy disallowing “take-or-pay” and sovereign guarantees; promote PPP in the water sector; establish an export development fund to promote exports and investment; allow manufacturing industry to operate with less government interference such as price controls; liberalize importation of capital equipment; liberalize shipping industry; fully implement Mining Act; allow foreign ownership of land and retail facilities; allow relief from minimum wages; review the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL); apply ‘creative solutions’ to the 60-40 foreign ownership restriction pending Charter change (Cha-cha); privatize or close down government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to reduce fiscal burden, among others; use advisers (amicus curiae) when Supreme Court (SC) is ruling on issues that adversely affect the investment climate; promote labor flexibilization schemes; reduce corporate income tax and raise the value-added tax (VAT) and fuel excise taxes; and expand the conditional cash transfer (CCT) and Kalahi-CIDSS programs; encourage PPP in healthcare-related services.

With assistance from the TAPP, the JCF started producing Legislation Policy Brief, which identifies broad recommendations for Congress and the Executive. Among the many proposals of the JFC is the lifting of constitutional restrictions on foreign investments, which the AmCham has long been openly advocating. Thus, while Charter change (Cha-cha) is not explicitly identified in the PFG, its implementing components such as the TAPP provides pressure on the Philippine government to liberalize the Constitution.

Defending PH sovereignty

The US pivot and Aquino’s subservience to US interests are creating conditions for increased US intervention in the country not only militarily but also in terms of economic policy making and governance. A new era in the more than a century old colonial and neocolonial relations between the Philippines and the US is indeed being ushered in by the Aquino and Obama regimes.

The serious implications on national sovereignty, human rights, regional peace and stability and even on the environment of greater US military presence and intervention are well-documented and widely discussed. However, there is a big challenge for advocates of national sovereignty and patrimony to deepen and widen the public discourse on US intervention and the Asia Pacific pivot to equally underscore how the US, in its desperate efforts to abate its latest economic crisis, is increasingly and systematically laying the groundwork to further steer the national economy towards serving its monopoly capitalist interests.

There is a need to draw and highlight how Philippine-US colonial and neocolonial ties and decades of neoliberal restructuring and reforms have stunted national development and destroyed industries and livelihood, perpetuating chronic poverty and the permanent economic crisis in the country. (Ibon Features)

- See more at:
http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/04/29/obama-visit-greater-us-economic-intervention/#sthash.Qcl1ZpvV.dpuf

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     
           

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29 April 2014 | Mendiola | Liwasang Bonifacio | US Embassy
BAYAN-Southern Tagalog Press Release:

Southern Tagalog militants storm US embassy, condemn US-RP Defense Agreement

On the last day of US President Barrack Obama’s state visit to the Philippines, hundreds of militants from the Southern Tagalog region started their march from the foot of the Mendiola Peace Arch early in the morning and stormed the US embassy to condemn the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

“This defense agreement between the US and the Aquino government will institutionalize the increased rotational presence of American soldiers and the return of US military bases in our country. As President Aquino, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, signs this agreement, he proves himself a traitor to the Filipino people and a loyal puppet of US imperialism,” said BAYAN-ST spokesperson Andrianne Mark Ng.

“The people of Southern Tagalog will be greatly affected by this agreement. The US had long been expressing its interest in putting up military bases in Sangley Point in Cavite City and Oyster Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. In fact, Sangley Point has been used as venue of some of the military exercises in the country. Moreover, construction of the military base in Oyster bay has already started,” added Ng.

 

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“Palawan is strategic for the US pivot to the Pacific because of its proximity to China and other South-east Asian countries. We refuse to be dragged to this war that the US is instigating against China,” said Ng.

The militants had a “statue of bogus liberty”, their own version of the Statue of Liberty. “How can there be liberty when our country is controlled by the US government and thousands of US soldiers will be deployed to our country?” said Ng.

When they arrived at the US embassy, they burned a giant US flag with the label “No. 1 Terrorist”. “The US government, led by Obama, is the No. 1 terrorist. It uses force to control its colonies and neo-colonies and ensure its interests are protected,” explained Ng.

According to them, “the presence of US military forces will safeguard Obama’s economic and political interests in the Philippines.” They also said that “the return of US bases will mean more human rights violations, especially among women and children.”

“We will never allow the return of US bases in the country. Southern Tagalog belongs to its people. Our soil will never be a part of American territory,” ended Ng. ###

           
     
 
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Obama’s statements belie Aquino’s propaganda for EDCA
29-April-2014

US Pres. Barack Obama’s statements on the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China and on China itself belie Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s propaganda for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA.

Aquino has tried to make it appear that the US is bringing back its military bases into the Philipines in order to help the country defend our territory from China’s incursions, but Obama did not make any statement to that effect.

It is clear from Obama’s statement that the US is engaged in the dual policy of cooperation and containment towards China not for the Philippines’ sake but in order to advance US geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama’s statements make it clear that the US stands to gain while the Philippines stands to lose from the EDCA, as the agreement means no less than the country’s re-occupation, not defense, by the US.

When Obama invoked “America’s oldest alliance in Asia,” he reminded us of the US’ bloody conquest of the country at the turn of the century. This conquest was founded on lies, no different from US-PH relations at present.

We are calling on workers and all Filipinos to show their disapproval of the EDCA even after Obama leaves the country. Let us hold a bigger protest on Labor Day, which will also call for the EDCA’s immediate junking.

The EDCA’s signing was rushed and its content kept secret from the public. Now that we are becoming aware of its contents, of how it violates the country’s sovereignty, let us continue to hold protests and call for its immediate junking.

Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597

 

           

 

PRESS RELEASE
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. ###

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Reference:
Charlotte Velasco, LFS National Spokesperson
(63) 926 594 5243
Aries Gupit, LFS Deputy Secretary General
(63) 905 331 3902 ; (63) 939 767 3904


www.lfs.ph
http://www.facebook.com/elepsPH
http://twitter.com/LFSPhilippines

 

News Release
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. Colmenares.

“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 Colmenares.###

 

 

           
     
     
     

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We workers condemn the signing of the US-PH EDCA!
28-April-2014

We condemn the US government and the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino for planning to sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) today shortly before US Pres. Barack Obama arrives in the country.

If he approves this agreement, Noynoy will surpass recent Philippine presidents when it comes to increasing US military presence in the country and puppetry to the US. He will show that he is indeed the son of Cory, who rabidly campaigned for the approval of the US-RP Military Bases Agreement in the early 1990s.

The fact that the EDCA will be signed without any consultation with the public – nay, without at least formally informing the public of its contents – highlights the undemocratic manner by which US dictates are implemented in the country. It emphasizes the fact that the Philippines is an independent country only in appearance and that the country is in substance a US neo-colony.

The US and Philippine governments keep on repeating the lie that the EDCA will not bring back US military bases into the Philippines in an attempt to fool the public. Even the Visiting Forces Agreement, despite its title, has been used as an excuse for the permanent stay of US troops in Zamboanga City since 2002.

The truth is that the EDCA will bring back US bases into the country and it violates the Philippine Constitution which states that agreements about foreign military bases should be approved by the Philippine Senate and its counterpart.

The EDCA signals the Philippines’ re-occupation by the US. It does not set any geographical limit as to where the US can establish military bases in the country. It does not set any limit as to how many US troops can be deployed into the country at any given time. Its 10-year coverage will surely be expanded in the light of the US’ geo-political strategy of pivoting to Asia and targeting China.

Assurances that the EDCA will respect the Philippine Constitution, that Philippine consent will be sought for all US activities, and that nuclear weapons will not be brought into the Philippines are all lies given the highly unequal relationship between the US and the Philippines and the history of this relationship.

Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597
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NEWS RELEASE
25 April 2014

Obama’s visit to PH bodes ill for Filipino workers, small firms – research group

US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines will be a final push for further trade and investment liberalization which will gravely affect Filipino workers and even small enterprises, a labor research group said today.

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said Obama’s push for Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal portends greater influx of imported commodities and wider exposure of Philippine economy to external shocks amid the lingering global economic downturn.

“With Obama’s push for TPP, we fear that thousands of workers will be laid off as small enterprises will be jostled out of the market with the entry of big foreign capitalists and greater influx of imported goods. Further trade and investment liberalization will be only for US gain,” EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa said.

“Pressure will also be exerted in export-oriented special economic zones to maintain a vast pool of cheap and contractual labor, in line with the globalization mantra of global competitiveness and trade efficiency. Labor’s race to the bottom will be much worse,” she added.

With increased pressure in economic zones, Escresa said Filipino workers stand to suffer intensified flexible work arrangements, wage depression, and severe labor rights violations.

EILER explained that there is nothing significant to gain from joining the US-backed TPP agreement, saying the country’s three decades of trade and investment liberalization proves the disastrous implications of neoliberal globalization.

“In the three decades of liberalization, the key economic sectors of manufacturing and agriculture have been in perpetual decline. Employment in manufacturing did not surpass the 4-million mark. Agriculture’s share in the country’s gross domestic product has continued to shrink,” Escresa said.

The group said Obama is also expected to pressure Aquino to fast-track the Charter change (Cha cha) as contained in House Resolution No. 1 to give the TPP agreement a legal basis.

“Workers should lead the protests against Obama’s visit, as they will gravely suffer from the pernicious effects of Cha-cha and the TPP agreement,” Escresa concluded.

Reference: Anna Leah Escresa, EILER executive director, 0908-819-6319


 

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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US-PH EDCA worsens PH human rights situation—Karapatan

“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 2009."

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 world."

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 and Venezuela.

"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. ###

 

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Press Release:
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 rights issues—Karapatan

“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 Palabay.

“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. ###

 

     
     
     
     
           
     

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Press Statement
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, bully.

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 against resistance.

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 elsewhere.
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For how now can we eventually keep the habitual colonialists, like hungry wolves at the door, at bay? We bring out the people – in the streets, in the courts, in the schools, in the factories, in the farms, in every possible arena of struggle.# (kc)

REFERENCE:

Edre U.Olalia
NUPL Secretary General
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) Bureau Member
+639175113373

 

           
     
     

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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 CPP.

“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 Philippine competitiveness.

“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 independence.”

 

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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 region.

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 next decade.

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 China.

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 Asia.

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 Agreement.

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 aid/disaster response.”

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 operations.

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 alone (January-July).

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 Guam.
 

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.

 

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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 officers.

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 Agreement.

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 modernization fund.

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 Asia-Pacific.

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 country.

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 HA/DR.

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.

 

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Nature of American rotational troops in the Philippines
 

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.

 

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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 and Hawaii.

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 India-Pakistani border.

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.

 

 

           
       
           
           

 

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