ZAMBOANGA CITY – Filipino communist rebels have accused President Benigno Aquino 3rd of selling out the country’s sovereignty by approving a deal with the United States that allows American forces more access to the Philippines.
“The new military treaty is bound to be as perfidious and violative of Philippine sovereignty as all previous agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Military Bases Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement,” the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement.
It also condemned the Aquino government for granting US forces the privilege of setting up military facilities in the country.
“For over three years now, the Aquino regime has displayed out and out puppetry to the US military and government that so-called negotiations with its imperialist master can only turn out to be farce,” it said.
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines next month and he and Aquino are expected to announce the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation that would allow American forces set up bases or use Filipino bases as its camps.
“This agreement is a throwback to the era of US military bases, where thousands of US combat troops, their warships, jet fighters, communication facilities, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction were stationed within the country, and where the bases were used as launching pads for aggression in defense of US interests,” the CPP said.
The CPP also cited the Aquino administration’s rush to build and expand facilities within and around the AFP’s naval bases in Oyster and Ulugan Bays, both in Palawan, in order to address the demand for larger and more modern ports to accommodate the increasing number of US warships docking in the Philippines.
“Thus, the funds of the AFP modernization program are essentially being used to upgrade facilities to be used by the US military,” it said.
“Negotiations between the US military and the Aquino regime have been going on for close to two years now, yet very scant information as to the details of the draft agreement has been made public. Aquino’s defense and military negotiators must be held responsible for keeping the Filipino people in the dark on a matter of crucial importance as one involving the country’s sovereignty,” the CPP said.
Since 2001, US forces have been using Philippine military bases in Mindanao following the kidnappings of three American citizens – Kansas missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham, and California man Guillermo Sobero – by the Abu Sayyaf.
In Sulu, the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines is using the then army brigade headquarters and now a marine camp, as its forward base. And in Zamboanga City, JSOTF-P has utilized the Western Mindanao Command as both intelligence and command post, and a Philippine Air Force base there as its aircrafts and drones hangar.
The Mactan Air Base in Cebu has been used as a base for US Orion spy planes.
Those American camps are off limits to Filipino military commanders and soldiers unless they are given clearance or pass to go inside the bases.
US troops are also believed to be deployed in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and other parts of Mindanao in the guise of training Filipino soldiers in fighting terrorism.