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15 years after bases treaty rejection, RP not completely free of US dictates

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On the eve of the anniversary of the historic rejection of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a protest action near the US embassy in Manila. The militant group also slammed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for attending the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Cuba in what the group described as the “ultimate display of hypocrisy for a puppet president.”

In September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate junked a new bases treaty following years of relentless campaigning and mass actions.

“It has been 15 years since the bases treaty was rejected, yet we continue to see our country under the heels of the world’s number superpower. The Arroyo regime has in fact sought to reverse all the gains of the bases rejection, all in the name of the US war on terror,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Before, the argument for retaining the bases was the Cold War. Now, the argument for continued US military presence is the so-called “war on terror”. We may not have bases, but we do have the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, which when combined, is the same as having virtual bases in the country,” Reyes said.

Reyes said that the Philippines continued support for the US war on terror, its deployment of RP troops to Iraq as part of the coalition of the willing, and its continued hosting of US troops engaged in military “exercises” and operations, is enough basis to say that the Philippine government is not non-aligned and thus has no business attending the NAM.

“Only a hypocritical regime would claim to be non-aligned after it has allowed itself to be used by the US in its war in Iraq and in the borderless “war on terror.” Reyes said.

Bayan also criticized the Arroyo administration for backtracking on the signing of the Rome Statutes creating the International Criminal Court. It was reported that the Philippine government was worried about losing US military and economic aid. The US government has opposed the formation of the ICC because this would expose US troops operating in foreign countries to a system of accountability.

“The Philippines is the fourth largest recipient of US military aid in the world, according to the US Library of Congress. Military aid rose from $38 million in 2001 to $114 million in 2003, around the time the Mrs. Arroyo expressed unqualified support for the US war on terror,” Reyes said.