Termination of VFA pressed after Jolo incident
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) a day after an explosion incident occurred in Jolo on Tuesday morning, killing 2 US soldiers and a Filipino Marine.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France said President Arroyo should order the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to prepare the termination paper, sign it right away and just fax it to the US Embassy and the Office of US President Barack Obama.
“The termination of VFA by the Philippine government can be done in less than 24 hours. What is decisive here is political will and the readiness of President Arroyo to face her American military master and tell him it is the end of the road for military pact,” France explained.
The Pamalakaya leader agreed with the observations raised by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the US troops in Jolo were actually engaged in combat operations because of their presence in combat zones, and supported her call for the abrogation of the VFA.
France said the Jolo incident should lead senators to update their previous resolution—Senate Resolution No. 1356 entitled “Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the DFA should seek to renegotiate the VFA with the US, in a case of denial, should give notice of termination of the VFA.
Pamalakaya proposed to update Senate Resolution No. 1356 that should be read: “ Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate strongly urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to terminate the VFA in the name of national sovereignty.”
“We hope the senators, as well as the congressmen in the House of Representatives will rise above the occasion, express the patriotic will of the people through legislative action. No more debates please, just send the Yankees home,” the group said.
Pamalakaya said the Jolo incident would also remind the Supreme Court of their past mistakes in upholding the constitutionality of the VFA, the last of which is the 2009 case Nicolas vs. Romulo, where the high tribunal, through a 9-4 vote, declared the military agreement as constitutional,
Quoting Senate Resolution No.1356 sponsored by Sen. Santiago, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Pamalakaya said US troops in the country are engaged in combat operations. It said, the first commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-Philippines) Col. David Maxwell, clearly implied that combat operations are part of the US military business.
According to Maxwell ,the Philippine constitution only prohibits stationing of foreign forces but it does not ban US troops from engaging in combat operations. The US military official said the Task Force that he had led once as conducting operations under the guise of an exercise.
From April 2001 to October 2007, more than 50 US war ships entered in the Philippine territory and docked in various parts of the Philippine archipelago. #