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BAYAN-USA’s Anti-Columbus Day Message to Kerry: Keep Out

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Filipino Americans, Peace Advocates Continue Plans to Protest Expanded US Militarization of the Philippines Brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry

Upon hearing the news that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled his visit to the Philippines over the so-called Columbus Day weekend Oct. 11-12, BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin commented:

“If Kerry reschedules his visit to the Philippines this week, next month or next year, the Filipino people will still greet him with the same message: Go home, and take your troops, bases, warships and weapons with you.”

Kerry’s visit was scheduled to follow four rounds of military negotiations on the Framework Agreement for Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defense Cooperation between the US and the Philippines. The new agreement would expand both the deployment of US troops and US military access to ports and facilities throughout the archipelago as a linchpin in the US Defense Department’s plans to “rebalance” its forces from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific. It would also provide the muscle to impose the US’ neoliberal economic agenda in the region being pushed by the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Since the US announced its plans last year to funnel its forces, warships and armaments to the Asia Pacific in an attempt to strengthen what it calls its role as a “Pacific Power,” activists throughout the region have condemned the maneuvers and the guaranteed social, economic, and ecological destruction the increased militarization will bring. In the Philippines, the new military agreement in combination with the already existing Visiting Forces Agreement would continue to destroy the sovereignty of the Philippines, objectively allow the entire country to be used as a military base for the US, foment tensions in the region, and serve the interests of only the world’s 1% who profit from the military, agribusiness, and mining and oil/energy exploration mega-industries to be protected by the US presence in the area.

BAYAN-USA also criticized comments made by Kerry at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei on Wednesday, stating that “A finalized code of conduct, in which all abide by a common set of rules and standards, is something that will benefit the entire Asia-Pacific community of nations — and beyond.” Kerry’s statement referred to efforts by ASEAN members to develop a legally binding code of conduct that would govern the peaceful resolution of disputes among its member countries, including China.

“Kerry’s statement is completely hypocritical coming from the Secretary of State of the country most guilty of violating international legal standards whenever it wants. Did Kerry forget that barely a month ago, he and President Obama were on the brink of attacking Syria, in complete violation of international conventions? What about the US attack on Libya last year, and its financing of dirty wars in South East Asia and Central America in previous generations?” declared Ellorin.

BAYAN-USA reiterates its calls for the rejection of any military deal between the U.S. and the Philippines, the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Philippines, compensation by the U.S. for the destruction of 2,000 square meters of the Tubbataha reef by a U.S. warship, and the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. In the midst of the US federal government shutdown, Kerry should be working with Congress to find solutions to the budget impasse, rather than pushing a US military agreement that would further fatten the wallets of military industrial giants and cost crisis-stricken US taxpayers billions of dollars.