By PINOY WEEKLY
For the second straight day, thousands of members of progressive groups took to the streets to protest the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and US Pres. Barack Obama’s state visit to the country.
“Aquino has tried to make it appear that the US is bringing back its military bases into the Philipines in order to help the country defend our territory from China’s incursions, but Obama did not make any statement to that effect,” said labor leader Elmer Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement). Labog noted that Obama’s statements on the Philippine territorial dispute with China “belie Aquino’s propaganda for EDCA.”
On Monday, April 28, Obama was noncommittal when reporters asked him if the US armed forces–whose presence in the Philippines will increase after EDCA’s signing–will defend the Philippines if attacked by China.
“So what did we get from the Obama visit? Not much it seems. As expected, no commitment, no assurance. Meanwhile, Obama goes home with a new military agreement that would allow more US forces to rotate in the Philippines. Such is the tragedy of neo-colonial relations,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance).
Bayan, KMU and other sectoral and progressive organizations have been protesting against negotiations between US and the Philippines for a new military pact that will significantly increase US military presence in the country. The groups maintained that such an increase in US military presence will only exacerbate the tensions between the Philippines and China, who are engaged in a much-publicized territorial dispute in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In the more than 60 years since the signing of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty, the US armed forces have only made Philippine military more dependent on military aid, according to Reyes.
The groups also said that EDCA will only worsen the Philippines’ “neocolonial mendicancy” to the US.