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Press Statement

June 12, 2012

Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:


Credit: Anakbayan LA

On the heels of a whirlwind trip to London and the United States securing multi-million dollar investment deals, including a trip to the White House for a meeting on increasing US military presence in the Philippines, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III was met with condemnation and protest by members and allies of the US-wide Filipino-American alliance BAYAN USA in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington DC last Friday.

“It’s a shame that as Filipinos around the world commemorate Philippine Independence Day, Aquino’s recent trip to the US and the UK illustrates that his administration is keen on conditioning the Philippines as a whole to be more dependent of foreign powers – both economically and militarily,” states BAYAN USA Chairperson Bernadette Ellorin. “There is no genuine Philippine independence to celebrate under Aquino.”

Investment-dependent Economy

Ellorin highlighted that the Aquino economic agenda of developing an economy dependent on foreign investment will not translate to livelihood and prosperity for the majority of poor Filipinos. “Aquino boasts that his lucrative business deals cinched with British and American investors worth up to $1 billion will mean more jobs and food on the table for Filipinos back home. But in truth, the number of Filipinos leaving the country in search of jobs with a livable wage has jumped considerably to 4200 a day. Not only is this wealth from foreign investment not trickling down to the poor in the Philippines, it is completely unsustainable, especially in this time of deepening economic crisis felt around the world.”

The Obama administration is currently under secret negotiations with partners to aggressively push a new free trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific region known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Pundits have compared the TPPA as bigger than NAFTA, and critical in containing, if not isolating, super-rival China from flexing its growing economic muscle in a global region where US economic dominance reaps over $1 trillion of its GDP from its export position alone.

“The TPPA and the US economic agenda to maintain its hegemony is behind the US military pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. Aquino has announced that he wants the Philippines to be part of the TPPA, and has been bending over backwards to accomodate the US government’s military agenda of converting the entire Philippines into one large US military base. This agenda includes re-opening the former permanent US military bases– Clark and Subic– that were shut down after a landmark 1991 Philippine Senate decision as part of a call for genuine national sovereignty and respect for Philippine territorial integrity,” Ellorin continued.

US Military Outpost for Power Projection

Since its formation in 2005, BAYAN USA has actively linked the increase in US military presence and aid in the Philippines to an increase in human rights abuses throughout the country.

The US and Philippine governments have claimed that continuing US military presence in the Philippines has been mainly to act as advisors and trainers for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In 2008, Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extra-judicial Killings and Summary Executions, pointed to the culpability of the US-trained AFP in the perpetration of over 1000 killings of civilians in the country.

In addition to the deployment of US military forces for the resumption of joint military exercises, known as Balikatan, with the Philippine military last March, the Obama administration has deployed at least one US nuclear warship and submarine to the country along with other advanced war machinery. US drone exercises have reportedly killed civilians earlier this year in the southern Philippines.

“The Filipino people and the Philippines as a whole have everything to lose with more US military troops in the country– not only their national sovereignty and territorial integrity, but their lives and security.”

Build a Truly Independent Philippines!

BAYAN USA supports the building of a self-reliant Philippine economy that can provide livelihood for all Filipinos as a fundamental measure of a truly independent nation. It has urgently echoed the call for a genuine agrarian reform program as well as a program for national industrialization as essential to building economic self-reliance.

“The struggle for Philippine independence is not over, 114 years later,” Ellorin declared. “Now more than ever, with the US economic and military agenda threatening the country and the region, Filipinos must make the critical distinction between the path towards neo-colonalism and foreign domination on one hand and the path towards genuine national sovereignty and independence on the other, and then see which path Aquino is walking.”

As for the question of the Philippine military’s dependency on US troops, BAYAN USA asserts that the Philippine government must first turn to non-antagonistic diplomacy and assert its sovereignty when dealing with disputes with other countries, such as China, before running to the US for more military personnel. It also stated that the Philippine government still employs a policy of impunity for known human rights abuses committed by the AFP, and that the AFP is not a state security force at all when it is known to point its guns at Filipino civilians after being trained by the US military. ###