BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA protest the marked intensification of US imperialist meddling in the Philippines. These actions will only further stoke tensions between the US and China, and will ultimately leave the Filipino people caught in the crossfire.
After six years of more volatile US-Philippine relations under the regime of Rodrigo Duterte, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has exerted every effort to seek the blessings of the US imperialist state and its multinational war corporations. The US has gladly welcomed this shift, pushing an aggressive plan to exert more dominance in the country and project its power in the Asia-Pacific.
In February, the Philippines agreed to add four more US military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, bringing the total to nine. The Basa Air Base — one of the nine facilities — just held its groundbreaking ceremony in Pampanga. Soon after the announcement of base expansion, the US also announced a $3.3 million aid package to the Philippine National Police for “anti-terrorism” efforts.
On top of this, more than 2,000 US soldiers are currently in the Philippines training with 1,000 Filipino soldiers for the Salaknib Exercises. And in April, the two countries, along with Australia and Japan, will hold the largest ever Balikatan military exercises, with 12,000 US troops joining 5,000 Filipino and 111 Australian troops. Ahead of the official start of the war games, the US has already docked the USS America amphibious assault ship and landed two F-22 Raptors in Clark Air Base. Balikatan has almost doubled in size since 2022, which up to that point had been the largest at 8,900 troops total.
“The US can throw around phrases like strengthening ‘interoperability’ and ‘cooperation’ all it wants, but its intentions are clear: to maintain the Philippines as a reliable launching pad for intervention in the region as part of its efforts to encircle and provoke China,” stated Adrian Bonifacio of BAYAN USA. The ongoing Salaknib Exercises’ stated aim is to increase soldiers’ air and shoreline defense, while for the first time, the US and Philippine militaries will conduct live fire exercises at sea during the Balikatan. “While the Philippine government has denied it, it is all too clear that these specific trainings are directly related to the country’s territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea,” Bonifacio asserted.
Meanwhile, ongoing US military and police aid to the Philippines serve the purpose of bankrolling the Marcos regime’s counterinsurgency efforts, particularly against BAYAN and its member organizations. “It is no wonder the US finances extrajudicial attacks against the national democratic movement, which has been at the forefront of anti-imperialist campaigns to oust US bases and demand accountability for the crimes of US troops on Philippine soil,” Bonifacio continued.
War games will not bring more stability to the region, nor will it help the Filipino people in defending our sovereignty against Chinese territorial aggression. Rather, the invitation of US imperialism into the country is a direct affront to sovereignty. And as history has proven, greater US military presence will surely lead to more violence against women and children. “Unequal treaties between the US and the Philippines, like the Visiting Forces Agreement, are a threat to the safety and well-being of Filipino women. The Philippine government has not once punished a US soldier for their crimes against women, and the VFA protects them from being prosecuted,” said Pyxie Castillo of GABRIELA USA, “We continue the calls for justice for the rape of Nicole, the murder of Jennifer Laude, and the nameless women and children affected by violence at the hands of increased US military presence ushered in by the VFA.”
As the economic crisis continues to impact working class and poor communities across the US — including Filipinos — BAYAN USA demands that US taxpayer dollars be directed toward serving the people’s needs rather than funding war and counterinsurgency abroad. We call on the people to support the Philippine Human Rights Act, a bill to cut US security assistance to the Philippine military and police for their role in human rights violations. Most importantly, we call on all Filipinos and supporters to build the mass movement to junk all unequal US-PH military agreements, stop military aid and war games, and end US imperialism in the Philippines.
“We must not allow the Philippines to become yet again a site for mass murder as it was during the Philippine-American War. Nor can we allow the US to treat the Filipino people as collateral damage like it did in every single imperialist war of aggression it has engaged in,” concluded Castillo.
US Out of the Philippines!
Junk the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement!
Down with US Imperialism!