Philippines: Communist rebels resist return of US bases

Sun Star, Manila

Friday, April 29, 2011

COMMUNIST rebels on Friday asked Filipinos to oppose any plan to reestablish United States military presence in Subic, Zambales, whether in the form of a base or related facilities.

The US military is reportedly searching for alternative places in the Asia-Pacific region to establish bases, in the face of growing opposition to their military bases in Okinawa, Japan where the US 7th Pacific Fleet is headquartered.

Last Tuesday, US Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran met with President Benigno Aquino III after visiting the Subic Bay Freeport to be briefed about the situation in the former US military base.

US Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson had already denied that the elder senators have sought the Philippine government’s help in restoring the US bases.

Outgoing Foreign Affairs spokesperson Eduardo Malaya also told Sun.Star that the US had repeatedly shrugged off plans in establishing military bases in the Philippines.

The Philippine Senate in September 1991 voted to reject the proposed Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Security which would have effectively extended the 1946 US-RP Military Bases Agreement for another 10 years.

Prior to that, the US retained control over close to 70,000 hectares covering the Subic Naval Base, Clark Air Base, and several other military bases across the country.

However, in 1998, the US and Philippine governments signed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allowed US military personnel to stay in the Philippines to be governed by a status of forces agreement (SOFA).

“US military presence in the Philippines is a direct affront and insult to Philippine sovereignty,” said the CPP.

Meanwhile, former senator Richard Gordon panned critics of the possible return of American troops in the future.

“US aircraft carriers docking there are welcome to boost local tourism, although I would not object if the Filipino people again decide to allow US military bases in the country. What is wrong with that?” he said.

Efforts to end Asia’s longest communist insurgency of 42 years started last March in Oslo, Norway after a six-year deadlock. The Philippine government said it plans to forge a final peace agreement by 2012. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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