End Unequal Relations Between the U.S. and the Philippines: Terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement
10 Years is Too Long, 1.7 Million Victims Are Too Many: Terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement!
If foreign troops were allowed to fan out across your city and turn your neighborhood into a military base for as long as they wanted, with no limitations on their activities and with the power to conduct surveillance on you, commit crimes without repercussions, kick you out of your home, and launch war operations from your backyard, how would you feel? The Visiting Forces Agreement (“VFA”) between the United States and the Philippines allows this and more to be done to the Filipino people.
May 27, 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of the ratification of the VFA. BAYAN-USA demands the termination of the VFA and justice for victims of abduction and all human rights violations, which have climbed to record levels in the Philippines since the VFA was ratified.
The VFA guarantees the violation of human rights and Philippine sovereignty • The VFA does not specify or limit the number of troops allowed entry into the Philippines • The VFA does not specify or limit the areas in the Philippines that the “visiting” troops can access • The VFA does not specify or limit the activities of the “visiting” troops • The US forces can deploy or station an unlimited number of troops anywhere in the Philippines for whatever unspecified activity • Military exercises can be conducted in areas experiencing armed conflict, making the risk of combat engagement very likely • Only 1 U.S. marine, Daniel Smith, was ever convicted of raping a Filipina woman, despite reports of thousands of cases; the VFA was used to shield Smith from the Philippine justice system and he was eventually acquitted
Human Rights Violations in the Philippines Are at an All-Time High Since the VFA was enacted and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president in 2001, human rights violations have soared to levels higher than even those committed during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Philippine human rights organization Karapatan all point to the same culprits: the Philippine military—trained and funded by the U.S. Since 2001, there have been over 1.7 million victims of human rights violations, including: • 1,017 extra-judicial killings • 1,010 cases of torture • 200 abductions • 195 enforced disappearances • 868,096 people forcibly displaced • 1,852 illegal arrests and detentions (from Karapatan annual Human Rights Report 2008)
U.S. Taxpayers Foot the Bill for the VFA The estimated total expense borne by U.S. taxpayers for U.S. militarization in the Philippines since the VFA was enacted is a lofty $1 billion. An additional $660 million—up from a reported $400 million just one month ago—is reportedly set to be spent over the next few years.What could $1 billion be used for in California if it weren’t spent on the VFA? • 14,000 Elementary School Teachers salaries • 13,789 Music and Arts Teachers salaries • 146,000 University Students’ scholarships • 2,900 Affordable Housing Units • 116,000 Head Start Places for Children • 401,000 Uninsured Adults Could Get Health Care • 364,000 Uninsured Children Could Obtain Health Care (from the National Priorities Project; all figures for the time period of 1 year)
BAYAN-USA demands the termination of the VFA and all U.S. military aid to the Philippines. We also demand justice for victims of abductions and all human rights violations, including full investigation and prosecution of the abductors.
Terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement! No U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines! Justice for Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations!