A decade or so ago, a cross-section of our citizenry were holding fora and marching on the streets protesting against the impending passage of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which would allow the return of American troops to Philippine soil.
These critics of the VFA then pointed out the danger posed to our sovereignty by the return of American soldiers citing our sad experiences when Subic and Clark were huge American military bases with hundreds of night clubs in the nearby cities of Olongapo and Angeles, respectively, providing “rest and recreation” comforts to the American G.I.s.
But proponents of the VFA then dismissed their protests as narrow-minded “anti-Americanism” aside from reading a litany of the various benefits the country was supposed to derive with the signing of this agreement. And so, the VFA was passed.
It would take the rape of a single Filipina named “Nicole” and the subsequent conviction of the perpetrator, Smith, to confirm the danger posed by the VFA. But it is the continuing “special treatment” being afforded to Smith that has exposed the unequal provisions of the VFA. Now that the Supreme Court has confirmed that such treatment is patently illegal, the government is at a lose as to how to rectify their mistakes without offending the American embassy.
The rape of “Nicole” is not the only crime committed by American troops in the country. It has been repeatedly reported that American troops serving as advisers to Philippine security forces in Mindanao has been clandestinely engaged in combat operations, an act which is illegal. But this has been routinely denied by both parties to the agreement despite the testimonies of witnesses and victims alike.
And then, there is the continuing “Balikatan” exercises between American and Philippine armed forces in various regions of the country making the presence of American military forces in the country a permanent fixture which is contrary to the spirit even of the VFA.
American troops in foreign soils are not exactly ambassadors of goodwill. They behave and act like occupying forces just like all invading armies in the past. You only have to ask the Okinawans and the Koreans living near American military bases in their respective countries how many of their children have been raped by American soldiers, if not run over by their speeding military vehicles.
So we can only add our voice to the renewed call for the termination of the VFA because it is an affront to our sovereignty as a nation; and the presence of foreign troops in our soil poses real and imminent danger to the life and limb of our people.
Just to make our position clear: the VFA has to be terminated, junked and not renegotiated as some of our senators would like it done. The reason is simple: as a former colony, we always end up short-changed in negotiations with our former colonial master, the United States of America. #