MANILA, Philippines - Leftist activists assembled yesterday at the Don Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang and pelted with eggs and tomatoes a tarpaulin that had a photograph of President Aquino, to protest the signing of a new military agreement between the Philippines and the United States.
Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) later burned the effigies of Aquino and US President Barack Obama at the bridge.
Wilson Hortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino (PMP) said the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the Philippines and the US would only benefit the Americans.
Experts believed that EDCA would allow the US to help defend the Philippines from China that had been aggressively asserting its claim over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Hortaleza, however, was mum on China’s bullying, saying that PMP is against war.
About 50 members of the PMP arrived in the area at about 9 a.m.
Members of Bayan-affiliated militant groups also arrived and held their own program lambasting the new military deal.
They brought a tarpaulin with the photograph of Aquino wearing a camouflage uniform.
Aside from opposing EDCA, the group also protested yesterday’s visit of Obama in the country.
The protesters started pelting the tarpaulin with eggs and tomatoes when it was announced that Filipino and American officials had already signed the controversial EDCA.
The protesters dispersed at about 11 a.m.
Party-list group Bayan Muna said yesterday it would question the
constitutionality of EDCA.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colemanares said the agreement would result in the return of US military bases and the permanent basing of US troops here, which the Constitution prohibits.
“They can also preposition jets and warships in our territory. The US can also make facilities and upgrade infrastructure e.g. bases, command centers and the like for their purposes. These are at the very least very questionable and should be scrutinized,” he said.
Party-list group Akbayan, which is allied with the administration, is also not satisfied with the new defense cooperation agreement.
“The Aquino government’s decision to bank on a US-led militarized response to the conflicts in the West Philippine Sea is exceptionally foolish,” Akbayan said.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the Aquino government signed the EDCA without any consultation and without at least formally informing the public of its contents.
“The US and Philippine governments keep on repeating the lie, but the truth is that the EDCA will bring back US bases into the country and it violates the Philippine Constitution, which states that agreements about foreign military bases should be approved by the Philippine Senate and its counterpart,” KMU said in a statement.
According to KMU, the EDCA signals the re-occupation of the Philippines.
“It does not set any geographical limit as to where the US can establish military bases in the country. It does not set any limit as to how many US troops can be deployed into the country at any given time. Its 10-year coverage will surely be expanded in the light of the US’s geopolitical strategy of pivoting to Asia and targeting China,” the KMU said.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) warned that Obama’s twin agenda of military basing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would lead to the massive displacement of farmers and wide-scale land-grabbing.
KMP chair Rafael Mariano said they expect US troops to once again directly participate in the local military’s counter-insurgency and combat operations “that will result to increasing militarization, human rights abuses, and massive displacement of farmers in the countryside.”
“The return of the US military bases, troops, fighter jets and war ships through the EDCA is an affirmation of the neo-colonial relations between the puppet Aquino government and its imperialist master,” he said.
Mariano also said that Obama’s push for the country to join the TPP would hasten the full-scale liberalization, deregulation and privatization of the economy.
Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said EDCA would give the US military expanded basing rights.
He claimed that the agreement could be compared to a “master coming home to visit a glorified slave.” With Jess Diaz, Mayen Jaymalin, Michael Punongbayan, Ding Cervantes, Dino Balabo