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
Web page: http://nnafj.kmis.co.jp/nfpc/
PRESS STATEMENTFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 1998
VFA-2, NEW SEQUEL TO A GRAND DECEPTION
A non-agreement, VFA-2, was signed last October 9, 1998 by Secretary Domingo Siazon and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard. VFA-2 is a non-agreement because:
First: though its Preamble states that its sole purpose is to try to “complement” the VFA-1 for U.S. forces, it was really an afterthought to project the image of reciprocity or mutuality in the face of the snowballing and widespread opposition to the VFA. In the first place why were the VFA-1 and VFA-2 not integrated as one single agreement?
Second, though categorized as separate from VFA-1, it is only VFA-1 that is to be ratified by the Philippine Senate. The U.S. Senate is not required to ratify this VFA-2 as “this agreement will enter into force simultaneously with the VFA and will continue in force as long as such agreement remains in force” (Art. 20, Entry Into Force and Duration).
Third, VFA-2 with all its pretentions of being “complementary” and “reciprocal” does not grant the same provisions to be given to U.S. forces under VFA-1. Instead, token junket privileges are to be granted to a few Filipino military officials visiting the United states. VFA-2 even magically grants such coverage to non-existent Philippine military activities in the US as “ship and aircraft visits” and “military exercises”. The US government never even granted these fictitious activities on US territory to us during the heyday of the US military bases in the Philippines!
Even the provisions on “Entry and Departure” (Art. IV) insult our dignity. Philippine military personnel entering the United States under VFA-2 are not really exempted from visas even as they travel on official duty as they will still have to be issued visas or multiple Visas by the US Embassy. But Article IV is also quick to deny such token privilege of a precious US visa to our military personnel because, “(3) . . . the Embassy reserves the right to deny visas to persons who are ineligible for entry into the United States under the provisions of US law”. The US cannot even trust on paper the good judgment of our government of whom to send among our military officers/personnel/officials to the US while the same privilege of denial by the host country is not found in any provision of VFA-1.
On the issue of criminal jurisdiction and custody, unlike VFA-1, the few Filipino military personnel visiting the US under VFA-2 cannot even invoke being “on official duty” or be issued Official Duty Certificates (ODC) by their Filipino commander when any crime is committed. Instead, there is a mere reaffirmation of their constitutional rights under US laws and criminal jurisdiction. The Philippines cannot be given any form of custody of its own personnel which is given to the US while US soldiers are undergoing trial in the Philippines.
On the matter of taxes, according to Art. X, “the acquisition of goods and services in the US market by Philippine personnel for personal purposes shall be subject to applicable US taxes”, a privilege not granted to U.S. in VFA-1. And as if to grant some perks to our junketeering Filipino troops, junket property “such as private motor vehicles may be exported from the US without the payment of taxes, duties or other similar charges to the government of the United States” (Art. X)
As a whole, VFA-2 treats Filipino soldiers as if their only purpose for US visits is to go on shopping sprees and junkets including to “utilize the military service exchanges, commissaries and cultural and recreational organizations of the US armed services” (Art. XIII).
VFA-2 also insults us by adding provisions which are way out of place in this agreement such as those concerning Philippine Embassy and Consulate personnel in the United States, which according to VFA-2, “shall continue to receive any privileges and immunities to which they are entitled under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and Republic of the Philippines personnel assigned to a Republic of the Philippines Consulate shall continue to receive any privileges and immunities to which they are entitled under customary international law” . (Art XVII)
The drafters of this deception forgot that what they were padding to project Philippine benefits are already recognized under international diplomatic law for all diplomats!
Finally, VFA-2 contains “supplementary Agreements” which are not yet specified and yet according to Article XIX, may be included as required between appropriate authorities of the parties.
Overall, the status and personality of VFA-2 is in question. Will it be ratified as a Treaty by the Senate of both governments? If it is not part of VFA-1 when VFA-1 is being ratified by Philippine Senate, will the US Senate then be required to ratify VFA-2? If not, who will then ratify this strange non-agreement.
Go tell the US marines!
For confirmation please contact:
Prof. ROLAND G. SIMBULAN (Tel: 453-9437; 526-5862)
CORAZON VALDEZ-FABROS (Tel. 924-0215 loc. 121; TeleFAX: 931-1153; 932-5188)