Groups, Miriam want to discuss Wurtzbach’s views on US military presence
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - December 22, 2015 - 1:57am

MANILA, Philippines – A women’s group, a militant group and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago want to have a discussion with Miss Universe 2015 winner, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach over her opinion on the United States military presence in the country.

During the question and answer portion at the Miss Universe 2015 coronation night on Monday, Wurtzbach, the third Miss Universe title holder of the Philippines, was asked about her opinion on the US military presence in the Philippines. She responded by saying that she is totally fine with it as the Filipinos are welcoming with the Americans.

Women’s group Gabriela congratulated Wurtzbach for being crowned Miss Universe 2015 but expressed opposition in her sentiment on the US military troops’ presence in the country.

“Gabriela congratulates Ms. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach for being crowned Miss Universe 2015. Ms. Wurtzbach's win is a fine moment for the Filipino people who supported her bid for the crown. However, we find her position regarding the presence of US military troops in the Philippines reflective of the sentiments of those who are unaware of the countless abuses and violence committed by US soldiers especially against Filipino women and children,” the women’s group said in a statement.

Gabriela said they wanted to discuss the issue with Wurtzbach hoping she will have a change of heart.

“We are most certainly open to discuss with Ms. Wurtzbach on the issue of US military presence in the Philippines and the inhumanity of the abuses and injustice brought upon the Filipino people by the lopsided relationship between the US and the Philippines, in the hopes that she would have a change of heart and make good use of her Ms. Universe title to truly promote humanity and justice,” Gabriela said.

Like Gabriela, Santiago, an anti-Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) advocate, also lauded Wurtzbach for her victory but also mentioned that she wanted a word with the beauty queen regarding her answer.

On the other hand, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes find the question about US military presence in the country unfair as Wurtzbach was pressured to answer in front of majority of American audience prompting her to opt for the “safe” and “popular” answer. He also looks forward to speaking with Wurtzbach hoping her answer isn’t final yet.

“The question about US military presence in the Philippines wasn't fair. It was calculated to elicit a YES, considering that the contestant was under a lot of pressure. Saying NO to US troops, in front of a predominantly American crowd, would harm her chances of winning. Perhaps she wasn't prepared to take that risk. She went with the "safe" and "popular" answer, at least for the home crowd,” Reyes said on his Facebook account when asked regarding his reaction on Wurtzbach’s views.

“Could she have answered differently? Of course. But I can't really presume to know what was going on in her mind at the time, or the pressure she was feeling,” he said.

“I only hope that after all this, she would keep an open mind when it comes to contrary views on the issue. I hope she would find time in the future to sit down with the victims of abuses by US troops, many of whom are women,” he added.

Sa mga nagtatanong re Miss Universe, at ito ay personal ko lang namang pagtingin...The question about US military...

Posted by Renato Reyes Jr. on Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reyes’s comment drew flak from social media which prompted him to clarify that Bayan does not hate Wurtzbach. He said he was just responding to the questions raised to them.

“Tinanong lang kasi kami. We don't "hate" Pia. We wish her all the best. And yes, we've protested vs China. You can Google that,” Reyes said.

“There's a pending petition before the SC re the EDCA. It's going to affect a lot of people. The merits of the case are worth discussing,” he added.

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement signed by US President Barack Obama in 2014. During his recent visit in the country, Obama reaffirmed his interest to enhance military cooperation with the Philippines.

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