Seattle & San Francisco — Activists and supporters of BAYAN USA in Seattle and San Francisco held protests against the expansion of U.S. military presence in the Philippines on April 27, coinciding with the anniversary of the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on April 28 in the Philippines.
The EDCA allows for the creation and use of military facilities by U.S. troops in agreed upon locations in the Philippines, which activists denounce as a circumvention of the Philippine constitution that bans U.S. military basing. Despite the Filipino people’s historic and successful effort to push out U.S. military bases in the 1990s, the EDCA allows American troops a constant rotational presence in the country. Following EDCA, the Philippines has become the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region.
“As long as EDCA exists along with other military agreements such Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement, the U.S. will continue to build up its military presence anywhere in the Philippines, especially at strategic locations closest to Taiwan and China,” said Abbey Irodistan of GABRIELA USA. The additional EDCA sites were revealed earlier this month as Naval Base Camilo Osias and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan province, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Isabela, and Balabac Island in Palawan.
President Marcos Jr. has been pursuing military partnerships to strengthen the Philippines’ relationship with the Biden administration. “While students in the U.S. struggle, the U.S. government continues to use our tax dollars to train the Philippine military,” said Noelle Trovela of Anakbayan Seattle. This month, the Philippine and U.S. governments convened the third U.S. and Philippines 2+2 ministerial dialogue in Washington D.C. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo committed to accelerating the implementation of EDCA projects and increasing the investments in military bases included in EDCA. “Who actually benefits from these military bases and agreements? We do not fall for the illusions that the U.S. genuinely has the interest of the Filipino people in mind when our country has been used for their real agenda since the U.S. colonial rule of the Philippines,” said Abbey Irodistan of GABRIELA USA.
On May 1, Marcos Jr. will be meeting with Biden in Washington D.C. for the second time since his presidency. In addition to furthering the military alliance between the two countries, the leaders are set to discuss trade and respect for human rights. “The US continues to send security assistance to Philippine administrations notorious for human rights violations, from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., to the presidency of his son,” said Pyxie Castillo of BAYAN USA. “Red-tagging, political detentions, and extrajudicial killings of community leaders have continued under the current Marcos’ lead. If the US is genuine in its concern for human rights in the Philippines, it would sign into law the Philippine Human Rights Act. It would also exert all effort to demand justice for Brandon Lee, a US citizen who survived an assassination attempt by the Philippine military for his advocacy work in Indigenous communities there.” ###