PH turning into US colony amid Charter change, US presence talks–solons
MANILA, Philippines – Militant lawmakers claimed that the Philippines was turning into an American colony amid talks of allowing the US access to the country’s military bases and of easing foreign restrictions in the Constitution.
Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate were referring to talks between the Philippines and US on the “Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation” (AEDC) as well as Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s joint resolution easing the foreign ownership restrictions of the charter.
“There are two requirements for a country to become a colony of another: First, is for its economy to be controlled by the other (through Charter change), and, second, its politics is controlled or influenced by the other through the presence of its agents or its military force (through the AEDC),” Colmenares said in a statement on Saturday.
The solon made the statement after the Philippines on Friday agreed to allow US access to the country’s military bases under a new security agreement being negotiated by the two allies, amid mounting concern over China’s increasing assertiveness in the disputed waters of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
The US used to have military bases in the country until the Senate in 1992 voted to end their lease contracts due to strong anti-American sentiment.
But the Visiting Forces Agreement that went into force in 1999 allowed US troops to return to the Philippines for joint military exercises, and thousands of American soldiers regularly flow through the country during war games.
Colmenares expressed fears that the Philippines may become “magnets for attack from the many enemies of the United States” due to the presence of the country’s former colonizer. “We do not want to become another Iraq where the US troops remained…” he said.
Colmenares said the country needed support of the international community and not just the US in addressing the territorial dispute with China.
Zarate also said that the agreement was “deceptive and lopsided … imposed by the US to advance its …interests as it pivots its military might in Asia.”
Meanwhile, a resolution seeking to amend the Constitution was approved at the House of Representatives, amid fears that Charter change may be used to extend term limits. Colmenares said increasing foreign investments to the country did not necessarily contribute to progress.
Belmonte’s resolution seeks to insert “unless otherwise provided for by law” to the Constitution’s articles concerning the national economy and patrimony; education, science, technology, arts, culture and sports; and general provisions. Congress would need to pass a law to ease the charter’s foreign restrictions. – with Agence France-Presse
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