MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines got nothing from US President Barack Obama’s visit but “heaping shibboleths on America’s longest ally” and praises for the Filipino chef at the White House, former Senator Joker Arroyo said on Tuesday.
“What did the Philippines get out of the Obama visit? Zero,” Arroyo said in a statement sent to Senate reporters.
“Analyze it. We rushed to sign the EDCA as a gift to President Obama, signed by our Defense Secretary and the US Ambassador that would allow more American troops in the Philippines. No one, but no one was consulted about its constitutionality or participated in its preparation. It was exclusively Malacañang directed,” he said.
EDCA is Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed between the two countries hours before Obama flew into the Philippines Monday.
“What did we get in exchange? Heaping shibboleths on America’s “longest ally,” President Obama also praised the culinary skills of the White House Filipino Executive Chef,” Arroyo said.
He said the Filipino people was hoping that Obama would at least say that in case Filipino fishermen and Navy supplies go to the disputed islands and the China Maritime Fleet fires at or harasses them, the US would strongly caution China “so that we don’t get embroiled in a shooting war.”
Arroyo then called on the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to look into the 1914 War Plan Orange No. III prepared by the US War Department, where it outlines America’s defense of the Philippines in case it is invaded.
This was unearthed, he said, in the research of the Civil Liberties Union (Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada, JBL Reyes, Calixto Zaldivar and J. Antonio Araneta, officers), which opposed the extensions of the US Bases.
“True enough, when the Japanese invaded the Philippines after Pearl Harbor, the US followed exactly the strategy as outlined by the US War Department. There was, in fact, no strategy for the defense of the Philippines except to treat us as a buffer to delay the invader’s southward advance. It saved Australia but not the Philippines,” Arroyo said.
“(The) SWS (Social Weather Station) gifted Mr. Obama with a survey – 85% of Filipinos trust the US. In his 4-nation tour, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, our country was top in gift-giving,” the former senator added.
But Senator Cynthia Villar, in an interview at the Senate, acknowledged that since most Filipinos are pro-Americans, they were happy just to see Obama in person.
“Alam mo naman ang mga Filipino, we are so pro-American. We are happy. Makita lang si Obama, masaya na ang mga Filipino. I don’t know why,” she said.
Nevertheless, Villar saw Obama’s visit as a re-confirmation of two countries’ Mutual Defense Agreement.
“Pero how it will be implemented is an entirely different story. We are about to see the implementation,” she said.
And while she thinks there is no longer need for the Senate to ratify the EDCA, Villar aid it would be better if senators would hold a caucus to discuss the issue.
“Siguro dapat mag-caucus kami and then i-discuss para at least alam namin. At kung may question, masagot,” she said.
(Maybe we should have a caucus and then discuss this so at least we know. And if there are questions, then we can answer it.)
Villar though described the recently signed agreement as “quite simple, and not that too complicated.”
The agreement, she said, had repeatedly stated that it should not violate the Constitution.
“They are always clear there [that] it cannot violate the Constitution, iyon ang palaging nire-repeat doon sa agreement, nothing will violate the Constitution,” she pointed out.