September 2, 2009
The labor party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on Sen. Miriam Santiago to push for the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Renato Magtubo, chairperson of PM, stated that, “The American troops in the country have overstayed their welcome, they are now bwisitors. The soonest the GI Joes are out of the Philippines, the better. With several allegations of sexual harassment on the American troops, they are fast becoming known as a band of rapists.”
The group said that the workers welcome any move that will question the VFA. “It is a step in the right direction if Sen. Santiago moves for renegotiation of the VFA. But it is even better if she recommends the termination of the notorious VFA,” insisted Magtubo.
PM is questioning the fact that the VFA has allowed the permanent basing of the US troops in the country thus negating the gains of the removal of the former American bases in the early 1990’s. “Year in and year out, American troops are in several critical areas in Mindanao, essentially establishing permanent bases and facilities under the cover of the provisions of the VFA despite the prohibition in the Constitution,” argued Magtubo.
He added that “Like the former bases in Clark and Subic, the continued presence of US troops have spawned social problems as shown by the cases of Nicole and Vanessa. It has even worsened the scourge of corruption with anomalies in the Balikatan funds as exposed by Ltsg. Nancy Gadian.” PM was actively involved in the campaign to seek justice for Nicole.
“The war against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah cannot be used as an alibi for basing US troops in Mindanao for they are not supposed to be involved in combat or even advisory roles in a purely internal matter. In fact, the presence of US troops are inflaming Islamic insurgency since it serves as agitation for propaganda. It has to be remembered that Al Queda started and grew as a reaction to the basing of foreign, principally American, military forces in the Muslim holy lands of Saudi Arabia,” Magtubo elaborated.