Bayan: Aquino opened floodgates for US military bases’ return to PH
Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan hit President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday for supposedly opening up the country for more US military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States.
Citing an interview given by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter before he visited the Philippines on Wednesday, the group said that the US plans to put up more bases in the country apart from the initial five as agreed upon by the two countries under the Edca.
In an interview with American newspaper “Stars and Stripes” published on Wednesday, Carter said that he expects the number of US military bases in the country to increase.
“That’s the beginning. The agreement provides for more sites in the future — so there [will] be more, but these are just the five initial sites,” Carter was quoted as saying.
In its statement, Bayan condemned the Aquino administration for supposedly relying on US support to fend off Chinese incursion in exchange of more bases.
“The Aquino government will go down in history as the regime that opened the floodgates to the return of foreign military bases in the country. The US will not stop at five sites. They will want more. They will try to reclaim their unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Pacific and push for their military dominance in the region,” Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said.
“Our dispute with China can never be used as a reason to allow another country to violate our sovereignty. It cannot be used to justify the return of US bases, under a questionable and open-ended agreement,” he added.
Bayan reiterated that the establishment of US military bases in the country is a violation of the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also warned of the possible detrimental effects of the reopening of US military bases such as prostitution, proliferation of drugs, and increased cases of violence against women and children.
“Only Filipinos can be relied on to defend Philippine sovereignty. We cannot ask another nation to do that for us. We have to strengthen the Philippines and industrialize it. Only that can we develop our capacity for external defense. Meanwhile, we continue to avail of diplomatic and legal means to resolve our dispute with China. The last thing we want is to be caught in the middle of two superpowers engaged in an arms race in the region,” Reyes said.
The five military bases that will be used under Edca are the Antonio Bautista air base in Palawan province, Basa air base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province, Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro City and the Mactan-Benito Ebuen air base in Mactan, Cebu. JE
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