DFA pitch for increased US presence in PH slammed
MANILA, Philippines – The presence of United States forces in relief operations in the Visayas was condemned anew by militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Tuesday.
The group also criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for citing the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) as reason for the need to have an increased rotational presence agreement between the US and the Philippines.
“It is utterly appalling that two weeks after the storm devastated Central Philippines, [DFA secretary Albert] del Rosario takes this opportunity to pitch for the permanent and continuing presence of US troops and warships in the country, citing the deployment of US troops for relief efforts in Eastern Visayas as among the alleged advantages,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.
“The US role in the relief operations in the Visayas is in line with the US agenda of justifying its military presence in the region,” Reyes said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been in negotiations with the US military for the increased rotational presence of its troops in the country following the US’s decision to reposition more of its forces to Asia.
“Del Rosario just couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling on the negotiations for increased rotational presence and de facto basing, keenly aware of the publicity the US forces have generated in their deployment to Samar and Leyte,” Reyes said.
“[He] is using the government’s incompetence and inability to deal with natural calamities as his basis for allowing the permanent deployment of the US war machine in Philippine territory,” he said.
Del Rosario met with US congressmen Chris Smith and Trent Franks and other members of their delegation on Monday as they visited Tacloban to inspect the ongoing relief operations of US forces.
Sea and air assets of the US have been in the country providing logistical support in the delivery of relief goods.
In a press conference at the DFA, del Rosario said: “I think this demonstrates the need for this framework agreement we’re working out with the US because it accentuates the purposes of the framework [one of] which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement.”
Reyes insisted that the government should be held accountable for its failure to prepare for disasters.
“The people must press the Aquino regime to undertake comprehensive disaster preparedness for future calamities,” Reyes said.
“To deal with these calamities, the Philippine government must rely on developing internal or domestic capability rather than simply relying on foreign assistance, especially those that threaten to undermine our sovereignty,” he added.
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