Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) expressed doubt on president Rodrigo Duterte’s continuing claim that he will scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as a response to the cancellation of Senator Bato dela Rosa’s US visa. “We suspect the president’s sincerity in scrapping the VFA especially with the context out of which this pronouncement came up,” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos declares as he noted that Duterte repeatedly reneged on his own words, including the promise of genuine land reform and return of the coco levy fund to farmers.
“VFA must indeed be scrapped but under the framework of asserting our genuine independence and national sovereignty, not political patronage and colonial puppetry,” the KMP leader said.
Senator dela Rosa’s visa was cancelled after US senators passed a travel ban against individuals responsible for the detention of Senator Leila de Lima. Aside from threatening the revocation of the VFA, President Duterte has announced that no ranking cabinet member shall go to the US as long as the US government’s travel ban is effective.
KMP however agrees that the VFA must indeed be scrapped. “The VFA violates Philippine sovereignty. It has allowed US soldiers to violate the rights of Filipino citizens in our own lands. It has allowed the US military to roam freely all over our country whatever their intentions or impacts be,” Ramos explains. He notes the Subic rape case of 2006 and the killing of Jennifer Laude in 2014, all of which had visiting US soldiers as perpetrators. Ramos also mentions the 2013 incident wherein a US military submarine skidded over and damaged a part of the Tubbataha Reef, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a source of livelihood for thousands of fisherfolks. He adds that “the US has greatly benefited with the VFA at the Filipino people’s detriment and disadvantage.”
The group fears that President Duterte’s “threat” to scrap the VFA was merely done to get the attention of US government officials for further political favors including but not limited to the re-issuance of Senator dela Rosa’s US visa. “Duterte is leading the nation further into an imperialist quagmire. If the US indeed re-issues Senator Bato’s visa and retracts its ban against the president’s allies, the government shall be obligated to provide favors in return, further entrenching US dominance in local politics. VFA’s unconstitutionality and violation of our sovereign rights becomes immaterial. Without national sovereignty in mind, diplomacy becomes a bidding game of how to slave over a master,” Ramos ends. #
(Featured image from NNARA-Youth)