BAYAN-USA raised suspicions regarding the intentions of junior Senator of Florida Marco Rubio, who concluded his visit to the Philippines yesterday as part of a week-long trip to Asia, a region Rubio described as “vitally important to the future of America’s security and economic well-being.” During his trip, Senator Rubio, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, met with officials in Japan, the Philippines and Korea, all countries with which the U.S. is negotiating military arrangements ranging from new access agreements to the building of new U.S. bases, as part of its “rebalancing” of forces to the Asia Pacific region.
“It appears that Rubio is following in the line of Hagel and Kerry–yet another U.S. official visiting the Philippines to push for more U.S. troops in the country, regardless of the interests and well-being of Filipinos,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin, referring to meetings conducted by the U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State in 2013 to discuss the Framework Agreement for Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defense Cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines. The new agreement would expand the deployment of US troops throughout the region as well as increase U.S. military access to ports and facilities throughout the archipelago as part of the US Defense Department’s plans to deploy 60% of American forces to the Asia Pacific. “Rubio took advantage of the continuing crisis caused by Typhoon Haiyan to conduct photo ops providing humanitarian aid in Tacloban, but this new military agreement would expand the much deeper humanitarian crisis caused by the presence of U.S. troops, drones, and warships in Philippine territory.”
Rubio was a member of the “Gang of 8” Senators who authored the iron-fisted, enforcement-heavy Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744) passed by the U.S. Senate last year. “Judging from the policies in S. 744, Rubio’s definition of security is adding 700 miles to the border walls and infesting the borders with at least 19,200 more patrol forces. At a time when most Americans and the rest of the world are calling for more diplomacy and cooperation, Rubio’s approach fosters militarism and isolationism. That is not the type of foreign relations that advances the long-term interests of people in the U.S. or the Philippines,” said Ellorin.
Rubio is set to deliver a foreign policy speech while in Korea on Jan. 24, regarding U.S. policy toward Asia. “With Rubio’s ambitions of making a run for the Presidency in 2016, it is important to scrutinize his perspectives on the foreign policy in the region. During his visit to the Philippines, Rubio failed to apologize for the irreparable damage caused by the U.S. Navy to the Tubbataha Reef or the years of abuse and rape of Filipino people by U.S. troops. He made no mention of the theft of indigenous land by U.S. mining, agribusiness and logging corporations. Does this bode well for his handling of foreign relations with the Philippines as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee?” questioned Ellorin.
Rubio’s Asia tour and forthcoming policy speech also coincides with the House Armed Services Committee’s “Asia- Pacific Oversight Series,” during which time the Committee is conducting hearings, classified briefings and closed-door meetings regarding U.S. security interests in the Asia Pacific. BAYAN-USA criticized the HASC’s process, which relies on testimony from current and former military officials from the Pacific Command, ambassadors, and think tanks without input from the grassroots people themselves who will be most heavily impacted by the military pivot. Results of the series are expected to be released in February during the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.