Category: u.s. bases

LP asking for foreign intervention vs. duterte?

ninez cacho-olivares writes that the liberal party (LP) has sent out an SOS to the US, stepping up calls for foreign intervention, cranking up the campaign to oust president digong and replace him with vp leni.

LP senators are launching a probe on Rody capitalizing on a statement made in his recent state visit to China that the country is separating from the United States.

The probe was called on the pretext of inquiring into the administration’s foreign relations policy but is obviously meant to add more fuel to the raging feud between Washington and Rody.

hmm.  i bet these LP senators were among those whom US asst secretary of state and senior diplomat for asia daniel russel met with when he was here oct 22 to 25.  i also bet that it was duterte who snubbed russel and not, as reported by manila standard, the other way around.  i remember catching duterte in some televised event post-china, and when asked about that impending visit, he shrugged and said that the asst. sec. of state could meet with his counterpart, the secretary of defense, or someone like that.  too bad the prez doesn’t have a working communications dept. otherwise na-straighten out en seguida yang balitang inisnab ni russel si digong.

but to get back to russel and his mission.  surely it was not just to personally air america’s concerns over digong’s pivot-to-china independent-of-america foreign policy and to reaffirm “America’s enduring bond of friendship, respect and shared value with the people of the Philippines,” but also to be assured by defense sec lorenzana that the prez doesn’t mean what he says, lol, or doesn’t know what he’s saying, lol uli.  and surely he was also here to meet with groups like the LP and who knows who-else to get the pulse, and state, of the opposition, kumbaga.

reminds me of pre-EDSA 1986 when US president reagan sent philip habib, the counterpart of russel in those days, to trouble-shoot the major major marcos-aquino conflict.  this was post-snap elections, post-batasan proclamation of marcos as winner, at the height of cory’s crony boycott and civil disobedience campaign.  it was reported that habib met with everybody: marcos, cory, the military, the church, the makati business community, and who knows who else, but both marcos and cory were adamant about standing their ground, no room for compromise, and honasan’s RAM was bent on pushing through with the coup / palace attack set for early sunday 23 feb and marcos and ver were prepared to wipe them out.

at the time, it must be said, america was squarely on marcos’s side on account of the US bases and the reagans being friends of the marcoses, and squarely anti-cory on account of her campaign promise to release all political detainees and, even, to put an end to the US bases.  it also bears pointing out that the only thing habib was sure of when he hurriedly left at noon of 22 feb was that something big and bloody was about to break between the marcos-ver and the enrile-honasan camps.

It would not do for President Reagan’s negotiator to be in Manila if all hell was going to break loose. It might seem as if he were involved, or responsible. [Sterling Seagrave, The Marcos Dynasty]

but as it turned out, honasan called off the coup because ver was on to it pala and was prepared to stop the rebel reformists in their tracks.  defense minister juan ponce enrile, who had been all set to take over as head of a ruling junta, decided to defect instead and with AFP vice-chief of staff and PC-INP chief fidel ramos announced their breakaway in that historic camp aguinaldo presscon just before 7 pm of saturday 22 feb.  the rest is history.

it bears repeating that contrary to popular opinion:

… the Americans were not responsible for EDSA. Ronald Reagan’s trouble-shooter Philip Habib knew that something was brewing but he failed to get a handle on it. The Ramos-Enrile defection caught the Americans napping, People Power knocked them out. It was already day three of EDSA—the battle was practically won—when the Americans intervened in earnest, and only in the matter of Marcos’s escape. Intelligence reports from the CIA may have helped the rebel military during the four days, but if the Americans had completely stayed out of it, EDSA would have happened anyway, and it could have ended more decisively. [EDSA Uno page 11]

america had nothing much to do with EDSA 86.  it was not america that brought people marching to EDSA to shield enrile, ramos, and RAM from marcos’s wrath — it was butz aquino and cardinal sin.  it was not america that compelled cory and enrile to reconcile their differences and join forces against marcos — it was the millions of people who surrounded the camps, cheering for both cory and enrile.  and it certainly was not america that installed cory as president but the sea of people who bravely stood their ground in the face of tanks and cannons and helicopter gunships and howitzers, demanding that marcos resign.

so, really, if the LP and the VP want the president ousted for his anti-america pro-china rhetoric, america is not the one to run to first.  america would happily assist in an ouster, i would think, but only if the opposition has the numbers, which means that the LP and the VP have their work cut out for them, which is to swing to their side duterte supporters who are pro-america and anti-china, and who might therefore be having second thoughts about their president.

if they’re not up to the job, it is perhaps time to turn their attention to other issues and events unfolding that are just as earthshaking, and where they could make a difference, e.g., charter change via con-ass, unless that’s okay with them pala, as with the planned shift to federalism?

pia & the US bases

bakit di ko makuhang madismaya sa sagot ni bb. pilipinas ms. universe re the u.s. bases.  kasi hindi naman nakakagulat.  iyan naman mismo ang naghaharing pananaw, in no uncertain terms.  good to be reminded what we’re up against.

Guingona Jr., Saguisag, Tañada slam pact with US

MANILA, Philippines—Three of the senators who rejected the renewal of the Philippine-US bases treaty in 1991 on Saturday expressed concern over the constitutionality of the new Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) that is expected to be signed between the two countries during the visit of US President Barack Obama this week.

In a statement, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada demanded that the agreement be scrutinized by both the Senate and the public. The statement was also signed by several lawyers and civil society members.

Read on…

The bases redux

By Randy David

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to reject a new bases treaty that would have allowed the United States to keep its military facilities in the Philippines. That decision was a watershed in the relationship between the Philippines and its former colonial master. Many thought of it as marking the true beginning of a postcolonial era for the country, which acquired its formal status as an independent nation in 1946. Yet, the US bases issue did not end there.

There has been, since 1991, a determined effort to reverse the effects of the Senate vote. First, our leaders thought we had to appease our American friends. The Visiting Forces Agreement was crafted mainly for that purpose. Because it ran against the spirit of the 1991 vote, the VFA was rationalized as integral to our commitments under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. Then, after 9/11, the global hunt for the al-Qaida terrorist cells in Southern Mindanao extended the scope of the VFA. Visiting American troops subsequently became a regular fixture in Mindanao.

Today, ironically, the justification for regularizing the American military presence in the country revolves around the same reason that had been invoked in the early debates on the US bases—the threat posed by China. What had seemed so ridiculously remote in the late 1960s and ’70s, when China was an underdeveloped agrarian economy hobbled by ideology, now appears so real that if the same bases treaty were submitted to a Senate vote today, it could win handily.

What has changed dramatically is China’s place in the world. In a span of only three decades, the backward country next door has achieved a level of economic prosperity that was thought impossible under Maoist leadership. The key factor was Deng Xiaoping. It was he who made it conceivable for the Chinese Communist Party to preside over the capitalist transformation of that country’s economy.

The rise of China as an economic power has however unleashed its own dynamic. It cannot now afford to stop growing. This unceasing drive for growth has in turn fueled an unquenchable thirst for natural resources wherever they may be found. It is the old story of imperialism. A new rising power starts flexing its military muscles in order to secure resources it cannot obtain through economic cooperation and diplomatic means. That’s where China is today. It seeks to convert the economies of its poorer neighbors into components of its own gigantic economy. This is what it has lately done to Africa. It is what it has tried to do in the Philippines—not by enlisting the help of the local communists but by generously rewarding politicians who are willing to use their powers to accommodate China’s expansionary agenda.

China’s leaders had a cozy relationship with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Today, it is the opposite. China has taken an overtly hostile attitude toward the P-Noy administration. It can wait until P-Noy’s term is over. But, China now has the power to shape events—to intervene, like the United States has done, in the internal affairs of any country. In the next presidential election, China may not be content with simply being a spectator.

I salute the way P-Noy has stood up to Chinese bullying. But it is unfortunate that the assertion of our sovereignty vis-à-vis China is pushing us toward a revival of the colonial relationship that our past leaders had heroically tried to end. It is bad enough that the VFA—which was originally meant only to provide a legal cover for visiting US forces participating in occasional joint military exercises—has been used to legitimize the regular presence in the country of American troops. It is such a shame (not to mention a patent violation of the Constitution) that we are now talking of constructing new facilities in Subic and Clark for the use of foreign troops.

If all this is because we wish to protect ourselves from China, then we need to review our premises. First, the United States is in Asia for its own interests and not for ours. Part of those interests is to contain China’s military power and influence. While we may indeed find common ground with America, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that US troops are here to defend our national interests against those of China. Most of all, we cannot surrender to America the same sovereignty we passionately assert against China.

Second, do we really believe that China’s leaders are prepared to actually start a war over territorial claims in the South China Sea? It is safe to assume that they know such a war would draw the United States into the conflict, and there would be no way of preventing its escalation. Should war with China become unavoidable, US forces would prefer to fight it in Asia, rather than on American soil.

“This rigmarole about protecting the Philippines is window-dressing: is it not?” Sen. J. William Fulbright asked Rear Adm. Draper Kauffman in a 1969 hearing of the US congressional subcommittee on US security agreements and commitments abroad. Admiral Kauffman, then the commander of the US naval forces in the Philippines, stammered and replied thus: “No, sir; I do not think it is window-dressing. I think it is a mutual advantage or else we would probably have to pay rent, something like that, if there were no advantage to them. I think they believe it to be in their advantage from their own defense point of view, but I believe we are there … because these are very fine bases for the United States.”

American interests in the region have not changed much. But, we have changed. We cannot turn our back on what we achieved in 1991 when our senators said “No” to a new bases agreement—emancipation from our colonial past.

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