Thursday, January 26, 2006

NR0126: Halt US war games, scrap VFA now!

*News Release *
*January 26, 2006. ***

*Reported scrapping of VFA Commission insufficient, *
*halt US war games while reviewing RP-UP military agreements, solon says ***
*"Philippine public officials should not bow down to US bullying over talk of VFA abrogration"*

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that "MalacaƱang's
reported abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission is
insufficient as far as resolving the controversial issue of US military
presence is concerned", adding that "the Philippine government should not be
swayed into puppetry again by initial reports that the US Embassy is unhappy
over this decision and may recall US military aid and financial support if
talks of RP's abrogation of the VFA continue".

"The Palace scrapped the oversight and coordinating agency related to the
VFA, but has so far done nothing to reverse the overall policy that directs
the VFA Commission: unequal and subservient bilateral relations with the
United States. Unless any definitive action is done against the latter
policy, the government can not expect the public unrest and furor over US
military presence to subside," he said.

Beltran said that "it was high time for a comprehensive assessment and
decisive action of how disadvantageous our existing military ties to the US
are", and "in view of this need to assess, stand up to pressure from the US
to continue with the bilateral agreements in spite of how lopsided and
unfavorable these may be for the Philippines".

"The Philippine government should proceed with a thorough and systematic
review of our existing military ties with the United States, and call for a
halt to the US-RP war games for the duration of this review," Beltran said.

"It is important that the RP-US military exercises be temporarily stalled in
deference to our need to thoroughly examine the VFA and the calls for its
abrogation. We can not allow any more human rights violations of Filipinos
by US troops in Subic, Olongapo, Mindanao, and elsewhere to continue in the
process of reviewing our policies towards US military presence," the
activist solon said.

* *

"The Subic rape case has opened a can of worms in RP-US military policies.
Historically, the saga of criminality by US military troops has prompted
other countries to similarly call for the immediate revocation of their
bilateral military agreements with the US and even the complete withdrawal
of US troops and bases from their homeland. Why can't we do it in our own
country?" Beltran asked. ###


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