NUCLEAR FREE PHILIPPINES COALITION
Room 312, UCCP Building, 877 EDSA, Quezon City
Tel: 924-0215 loc. 121 Cellphone: 0918-824-0144
Tel/FAX: 931-1153 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 1998
VFA: The Real Threat to our Peoples Security and Welfare
We refuse to allow the restoration of Philippine territory thru the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as a launching pad for US intervention in the Middle East and the world.We refuse to be part of the US militarys forward deployment strategy for the New World Order where the US is enforcing its globalization policies by means of the international monetary fund World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Seventh Fleet and its nuclear arsenal. These are all meant to protect the transnational corporate-led global economic system on US terms. The US regional and global hegemony continues today after a century of US military intervention and official state terrorism against the peoples of the Philippines, China, Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam. After a century of US intervention, do we now still want to be a building block of the machinery of war and integrated within the infrastructure of US post cold war strategy? The challenges today to the global US power structure in the form of a resurgent Arab nationalism and anti-US Islamic fundamentalism are not our problems. The United States today has become an international terrorist state that bombs other countries at will without respecting the national borders or sovereignty of other nations. Now, it is pressing the Philippines for restored US military presence and nationwide extra-territorial rights for its troops without respecting our laws especially the Constitution of our Republic. But the VFA is not only about giving full access to our territory for undefined US military activities and where we would give up our national patrimony and dignity for nothing. The VFA is now a serious threat to our peoples security:
1.) The US global military APPARATUS that now spends US$ 264 BILLION annually including its 15,000 NUCLEAR WARHEADS and a new generation of nuclear weapons is now a prime and favorite target of dedicated Islamic groups challenging US imperial interest in the Middle East. They could strike anywhere against US interest, especially US military units sent out against them. A borderless US military presence in the country attracts a borderless retaliation and attacks by Americas foes. The VFA and the US military presence that it seeks to restore is a grave threat to our peoples lives, limbs and security today. Do we want to make Americas foes ours too? Do we want to be integrated as part of the very arrogant and reckless US foreign and military policy recently shown by the illegal bombings against Sudan and Afghanistan? The transit and access to Philippine territory by nuclear-armed vessels and aircraft of the US navy and airforce further multiply the dangers on our soil by possible reprisals and retaliation by enemies of the United States. Ratification of the VFA would inevitably invite such reprisals.
*Note: 85% of US Forces in the Pacific are Navy and Air Force
2) We would now like to reveal another important threat of the term activities to be granted to US forces by the VFA. It has grave implications to both our public and private security. The US National Security Agency (NSA) has developed a global surveillance system a system it calls ECHELON which is a powerful electronic net that intercepts and monitors all phone, fax, e-mail and modem signals. The European Parliament in a 1998 report entitled IN APPRAISAL OF TECHNOLOGIES OF POLITICAL CONTROL has recently raised serious alarms and concerns and it has strongly recommended an intensive investigation of US-NSA operations which utilized military communications facilities in other host countries. The NSA ECHELON SYSTEMs awesome potential and potential for abuse against governments, even allies of the United states and civilian targets worldwide, should be of concern to us all for those both in public service and the private sector. In the VFA, the definition of US military personnel means not only US military but also civilian personnel who are employed by the US armed forces and who are accompanying the US armed forces. These US civilians would include technicians and specialists of the secretive US-National Security Agency (NSA) which, during the time of the US bases had operated spy communication facilities at Clark, Subic and Camp John Hay. All private citizens communications are intercepted and monitored by the ECHELON SYSTEM which is one of the most sophisticated eavesdropping networks in the world. NSA operations were curbed in the Philippines after the rejection of the Bases Treaty by the Senate in 1991 which struck at one of the central pillars of US imperial domination in Asia and sent shock waves among US military planners. According to a recent book about the international spy network, SECRET POWER (Hager 1996) the US had been using its NSA ECHELLON SYSTEM to collect political, military and economic intelligence not only against its enemies, but there is extensive interception of the ASEAN countries including the Philippines . . . . where ASEAN meetings receive special attention with both public and private communications of these countries being intercepted to reveal the topics discussed, positions being taken and policy being considered. Through the VFA, US plans to restore fully its ECHELON SYSTEM facilities in the Philippines which was greatly interrupted by the pull-out of US military facilities and bases. ECHELON functions as an electronic intercept and processing operations geared towards civilian communications including those by governments.
Let us not allow the re-establishment of these sophisticated spy network and systems in our country that would conduct surveillance against our government and against its citizens. The ECHELON data collected in the past was not shared to the host country as it often was directed against many friendly and allied nations. It is not in our national interest or national security to have these kinds of facilities and activities restored on Philippine territory under a Visiting Forces Agreement.
3) We should be likewise concerned about the environmental destruction that will again be inflicted by the US military through military exercise and port calls as they have done so in their former bases. The Prefecture of Okinawa has recently documented the environmental contamination and damage on its shores through the US port calls and military exercises: a) artillery firing exercises have destroyed their forests and mountains and contaminated lands with TNT, RBX, DNT and unexploded ammunition and missiles; b) contamination by asbestos, lead, PCB of Okinawan waters; c) red soil erosion as a result of regular military maneuvers; d) cobalt 60 emitted from military ports; e) PCB pollutes Okinawa citizens water supply; f) mutant frogs are discovered in Gushkawa City coastal area surrounding US military facilities.
For the past fifty years, RP-US military agreements and the so-called joint military exercises have only created an armed forces of the Philippines that is today the weakest in Southeast Asia. It is a mendicant Armed Forces that was instead created by the unequal and one-sided treaties. After almost 100 years of US military intervention and presence in the Philippines, it is about time that we re-oriented and re-built the Philippine Armed Forces along the revolutionary and anti-imperialist tradition of the Katipunan and the first Republican army led almost a century ago by Generals Antonio Luna and Gregorio del Pilar.
Finally, we renew our call for national unity against the VFA. The National Centennial Commission (NCC) has already spent 4.6 Billion pesos for a pompous but empty centennial celebration. Why should the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) now spend 13 Million pesos of its budget, according to DFA insiders, to campaign for the ratification of the VFA?
Now it is clear that the best way to meaningfully celebrate the centennial of our independence is to reject this unequal indignity to our nation the VFA that only favors foreign troops to the detriment of our people.
Prof. ROLAND G. SIMBULAN (National Chairperson)
Atty. CORAZON VALDEZ-FABROS (Secretary General)