It was the culmination of decades of struggle against the offenses and abuses committed by US troops against our women and our people. Finding refuge in their military bases, these military offenders were shielded by extra-territoriality privileges beyond the jurisdiction of our criminal laws and justice system. More seriously, these bases enhanced US interference in our country's economy and politics, and were used as staging points of US aggression in Vietnam.
The votes of the Magnificent 12 were a historic assertion of our people's sovereignty and a declaration that our territory will never more be used to advance US economic and military interests in the Asian region.
While on the surface diplomatic relations "cooled off" between the Philippines and the United States, the latter actively pushed behind the scene for an alternative scheme that would "bring back the boys" and that would turn out to have far more disastrous effects on our land and people. Sadly, we now confront the reality that US troops have come back and stayed under the Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1998.
Pursuing its war on terror in the Philippines, the US sent Special Forces organized under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) to Mindanao and Sulu, and who have since stayed. As many as six thousand US soldiers come for an exercise, holding as many as 37 exercises in a year. US ships dock in our ports as here many as 100 times a year. They have facilities in major Philippine military camps and they use almost all their pre-1992 camps and facilities.
And the troubles we had during the bases are also back: abuse of women, bigger prostitution problem, assault on civilians, question of criminal jurisdiction over offenders, disposal of their waste, environmental destruction during exercises. In all these cases, the VFA allows greater protection for the offending US soldiers over the demands for justice for Filipino victims.
The Scrap VFA Movement has been campaigning to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement. But the problem, clearly, is beyond the VFA.
The United States has strategic interests in this part of the world. The region is rich in natural and mineral resources, offers a vast market for US products, and has important trade routes and new energy resources. To protect these interests, the US needs the Philippines to station forward troops.
Appealing to "long-standing friendship" based on "historical and cultural ties," the US capitalizes on the Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT) and all the other military agreements as basis for continuing military presence in our country. But we remember only too well how the Mutual Defence Treaty was practically imposed on the Philippines soon after World War II, in return for rehabilitation funds for destruction and damages that American planes themselves caused, and for military assistance in quelling social unrest in the country at that time.
It is our responsibility as Filipinos to give primacy to our national interests. National sovereignty must always prevail. We challenge our present Senators to do what the Magnificent 12 did in 1991.
Hail the Heroes of the Anti-Bases Movement!
Time to Assert National Sovereignty Once Again
TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!
ABROGATE THE MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY AND ALL OTHER MILITARY AGREEMENTS TO FREE OUR COUNTRY FROM ANY MILITARY INVOLVEMENT WITH THE UNITED STATES IN ITS WARS AND MILITARY ADVENTURES!
FINALLY, WE ASK OUR GOVERNMENT TO PURSUE A TRUE AND INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY IN LINE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION!
Convenors and Member Organizations:
Philippine Women's Network for Peace and Security ¤ Stop the War Coalition-Philippines ¤ Task Force Subic Rape ¤ Welga ng Kababaihan ¤ World March of Women-Philippines ¤
Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (ASSERT) ¤ AKBAYAN Partylist ¤ Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)-Women ¤ Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)-Youth ¤ Bagong Kamalayan Collective Incorporated ¤ Bisig-Akbayan ¤ Buklod ng Kababaihan (Olonggapo) ¤ Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) ¤ Coalition against Trafficking of Women -Asia Pacific ¤ Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) ¤ Women and Gender Commission AMRSP ¤ Fil-Cuba Solidarity ¤ Focus on the Global South ¤ Kababaihan Pilipinas ¤ KAISA KA ¤ Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) ¤ KPN ¤ KPP-Kalayaan ¤ KSM Pilipinas ¤ KUMPAS ¤ League of Irban Poor for Action (LUPA) ¤ Magnolia ¤ Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN) ¤ MAKALAYA ¤ Metro Subic Network ¤ Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement ¤ NEFFAIA (Nueca Ecija) ¤ NUPCO ¤ Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) ¤ Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) ¤ PEACE ¤ Peace Women Partners ¤ Peoples Task Force for Bases Clean Up ¤ PGX Philippine Global Exchange ¤ Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement ¤ Piglas Kababaihan ¤ Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda (PANGISDA) ¤ Resource Center for Peoples Development ¤ SARILAYA ¤ SDK-KAISA-UPD ¤ SMUCZ ¤ SMMK ¤ SOS Women ¤ STISC ¤ SRC-NTA-KASAMA Pilpinas ¤ Teatrong Bayan ¤ Ugnayan Makabayan ¤ Women's Education Development Productivity and Research Organization (WEDPRO) ¤ Woman Health ¤ Women's Legal Bureau (WLB) ¤ Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND)
Atty. Virginia Suarez-Pinlac
Ana Maria R. Nemenzo