Kamala Harris’ visit a loyalty and commitment check on Marcos Jr’s subservience to US — farmers

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is among the many organizations and sectors condemning the visit of United States Vice President Kamala Harris to the country. The progressive farmers’ group likened Harris’ visit to a ‘loyalty check’ on the Philippines’ commitment and readiness to abide by the United States government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. (Read the full paper here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/U.S.-Indo-Pacific-Strategy.pdf)

Harris’ visit to the PH came days after US President Joe Biden graced the ASEAN Meeting in Cambodia. The back-to-back visits of top two US leaders to the Asia-Pacific region “signifies their affirmation that the US is an Indo-Pacific power” — a direct threat and challenge to China which has long been asserting its economic, political, and military power in the region.

“Harris visiting Palawan which is within the territory of the West Philippine Sea is like a direct message to China: “Don’t mess with what is ours,” according to KMP chairman emeritus Rafael Mariano, referring to the centuries-old US-PH diplomatic relations. “Under the guise of helping protect the West PH Sea against China’s incursion, the US is using this opportunity to banner its military hegemony over Asia-Pacific”, Mariano added.

Harris will arrive in Manila tonight after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

The group also warned that Harris’ visit will signal the further deterioration of human rights in the country, especially with the increased US military support and increased presence of US troops.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy brings together 13 Asian countries including the Philippines in a multilateral economic initiative called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity which is framed along the same neoliberal policies that have bankrupted poor countries and hindered their development. At the core of this strategy is the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) which demands increased military exercises and operations in the Indo-Pacific region and the building of warfighting capabilities on all fronts including cyberspace, artificial intelligence, and maritime capacity. The US Congress has allocated $7.1 billion (₱406 bilion) the to bankroll the PDI in 2023.

The PH government under Marcos Jr is expected to receive over $100 million (estimated ₱5.9 billion) worth of US military aid. In exchange, the Philippines has agreed to allow the US to build five more military facilities under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Current EDCA locations are stationed in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, and Palawan.

KMP and its allied organizations will lead an online protest against Harris’ visit. ###

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