EDCA may fuel prostitution in Cebu
Christell Fatima M. Tudtud (The Freeman) - January 22, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Cases of prostitution and abuse of women and transgenders are feared to rise in Metro Cebu if troops from the United States set foot on Cebu’s military bases because of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Jaime Paglinawan, chairperson of Bayan partylist in Central Visayas, expressed concerns that the arrival of US forces may eventually spur increase in establishments that promote prostitution.

“Mas mokuyanap ang prostitusyon sa Cebu ug ang makuhang sakit kun mobalik ang US troops,” he said in a text message to The FREEMAN, adding that EDCA “is worse” than the 1947 Military Bases Agreement as it allows the US “to occupy the country’s land on a wider scale.”

In Cebu, the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base and Naval Forces Central in Lapu-Lapu City and the Camp Lapu-Lapu in Barangay Apas, Cebu City are reportedly among the locations being considered under EDCA.

Legislation  Needed

But for Mandaue City Treasurer Lawyer Regal Oliva, who is himself a gay rights advocate, abuse is “still imminent whether EDCA is there or not.”

“The presence or absence of these troops does not diminish the fact that abuse is imminent. The absence of a concrete state policy protecting transgenders will always lead to more abuses,” Oliva said.

He added that EDCA will “add fuel to the fire for abuse and discrimination,” which should be addressed by the legislation.

Oliva said he is not opposing EDCA as the US troops are a welcome addition to the country’s military forces.

“(I’m) not opposing. The presence of US troops may contribute to the competence and efficiency to our military. However, their presence should be coupled by a policy that would protect transgenders from further abuse and discrimination,” he said.

In August 2015, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted strangling Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude which led to the latter’s death.

Witnesses said Laude was last seen checking in at an Olongapo City motel with Pemberton. The two had met at a nearby bar, where Pemberton was spending the night with fellow servicemen after participating in US-Philippines joint military exercises in Subic.

Pemberton later claimed the strangling was out of self-defense.

No  New  Bases

Transport Secretary Jose Emilio Abaya, however, clarified there will be no new bases for foreign entity under the EDCA.

“There would not be any new bases for any foreign entity here, just merely temporary arrangement. Of course, (for) Mactan, Cebu, the air force base here, is much farther away from possible engagement,” Abaya said.

Abaya was in Cebu yesterday to witness the ceremonial pouring of cement to mark the construction of the second airport terminal.

“We see the developments over West Philippine Sea and it should be a welcome arrangement  and clearly, it’s not violative of the constitution,” Abaya told reporters.

The Supreme Court on January 12 declared EDCA as constitutional and does not reportedly need the agreement of the Senate.

EDCA grants US troops, their aircrafts and ships an increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases, allowing Washington to build amenities in storing fuel and equipment.

While the measure earned criticisms, especially on its perceived impact on Philippines’ sovereignty, other quarters see the added troops as a good boost to humanitarian and disaster response here. (FREEMAN)

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