Patriotic youth group League of Filipino Students (LFS) held a lighting rally on Wednesday morning in front of the United States of America (US) Embassy in Manila to show their demand to junk the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). As a way to demonstrate their defiance, the protesters hurled paint bombs and defaced the Embassy seal.
“Today, we are showing the American government and the world that the Filipino youth will never welcome the return of US military bases in the country. As pag-asa ng bayan we will not surrender our sovereignty nor our future to the US imperialist,” said LFS National Chairperson Charisse Bañez.
Bañez remains firm that EDCA violates our Constitution, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity by allowing the return of US military bases in the country. To demonstrate her point, she cited Article III, Section 1 of EDCA that grants US forces and contractors the authority to carry out just about the whole gamut of possible military operations within their camps. The youth leader added that Article IV of EDCA, Sections 3 and 4 specify that US forces and contractors will have “unimpeded access” to these Agreed Locations and that the prepositioned equipment, supplies, and materiel will be “for the exclusive use of US forces”.
“In the 10-page document of EDCA, it is very clear that our government surrendered the sovereignty over these so-called Agreed Locations that allows the US to conduct practically anything. These locations can be undeniably classified as US military bases. The US and Aquino government might be able to sugar-coat it, but they cannot fool the youth and the people,” Bañez said.
“The return of US military bases in the country reminds us of the atrocities committed by the US troops to the Filipino people. During the Fil-Am war, before the establishment of US bases, the American soldiers killed almost 1/7 of our population including children aged 10 and above. During their decades of stay in Subic and Clark, they sexually harassed our women and shot our people for fun,” she added.
Bañez also recalled that when the US troops returned to the Philippines through the Visisting Forces Agreement (VFA) after being kicked out by the people in 1991, the human rights violations committed by American soldiers continue.
“The list of violations by the US troops during their stay in the country has become too long. We cannot forget the rape of Nicole in 2005 perpetrated by Daniel Smith and other US troops. In 2009, one-year-old Rafaela Palborido was killed by US clearing operations in Bicol. In 2012, Ahbam Juhurin was killed while going home from fishing when a US speedboat ran over his fishing boat. We also recall the massacre of three Moro civilians by US military personnel, and the murders in Basilan and Zamboanga City. The latest of these atrocities is the slay of transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude by Joseph Scott Pemberton,” said Bañez.
“The crimes committed by US troops and military personnel to the Filipino people know no end. Of all these, not one was held accountable. Even Pemberton’s case is no exception as he and his government are trying to claw their way out of Philippines laws and justice system,” she continued.
Bañez said that the return of US military bases in the Philippines only spell doom for the Filipino people. She noted that the history of US presence in the country tells us that EDCA will never be beneficial. The youth leader pointed out that the dangers of these US military bases are heightened since EDCA actually allows the US troops off the hook as stipulated in Article XI of the agreement that any disputes are not allowed to be referred in any court or tribunal, local or international.
“In the name of our national heroes who offered their lives for our county’s freedom, in the name of the victims of human rights violations committed by the US soldiers, we vow that we will not rest until EDCA is scrapped and the US military forces are once again kicked out of our country. Bigger and more protests will come their way as we are determined to defend Philippine sovereignty,” said Bañez
Bañez noted that LFS is preparing for a nationwide protest on Friday, January 22, to show the dissent of the youth across the country. She said that the protest centers include the locations where the US bases will be established – different provinces in Central Luzon, Palawan and other provinces in the Southern Tagalog Region, Cagayan de Oro and other cities in Mindanao, and Cebu. ###