Archbishop in CDO urges gov’t to ensure PH sovereignty amid US troops
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – An official of the Catholic Church here urged the national government to ensure that the country’s sovereignty would not be transgressed, after it announced that the airfield in Barangay Lumbia here would become one of the military installations, which the American forces would have access to under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, head of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro said the country should put in place measures that would implement EDCA’s limitations and restrictions, even if Philippines needed an ally with military might to counter the encroachment of China into its territorial boundary.
The intrusion of China in parts of South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries has triggered the rallying cry for a stronger military presence in this part of the region.
“There is still that continuing concern about the expansion of China to our shores, and therefore there is also a need for some kind of balancing power [in the Philippines]. Our public officials should also consider these factors,” Ledesma said in an interview.
Meanwhile, the women’s group Gabriela maintained its anti-EDCA stance as it cited reasons why the presence of US forces in the country would have its adverse effects.
Rhodora Bulosan, Gabriela spokesperson for Northern Mindanao, said that with American troops coming in, the number of prostituted women, abandoned mixed-breed children and cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) would increase.
Bulosan warned that residents living near the Lumbia airfield would be displaced with the expansion of the facility.
She added that the city government has not prepared a relocation site for the residents who would be displaced if the facility was expanded.
She added the presence of the US forces in the city would be an insult to the local heroes who fought the invading American soldiers during the Filipino-American War from 1899 to 1902.
In 1900, Cagayanons led by General Nicolas Capistrano and other guerrilla leaders resisted the American invaders who occupied the city, then known as Cagayan de Misamis.
Bulosan said they also feared that with the entry of the US forces, the Philippines would become a target and a “human shield” should they engage in a war with other countries.
Frances Ann Palatino, deputy secretary of Gabriela Women’s Partylist, echoed Bulosan’s fear, saying the EDCA would result in the rise of prostitution and rape.
“Based on history, where there are US troops, there are also red-light districts,” Palatino said, referring to what happened to Subic base in Olongapo, Zambales and in Zamboanga City.
She said the presence of the American military would be followed by cases of abuse and exploitation of impoverished Filipino women.
Palatino said Gabriela still considered the EDCA “not constitutional” although the Supreme Court had deemed the agreement within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution.
She said treaties with other countries, like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), must pass through Senate voting, adding this did not happen with EDCA. SFM
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