THE LEGISLATIVE Oversight Committee on the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement last week adopted a concurrent resolution calling for the termination and renegotiation of the controversial treaty. The next step is to have the resolution adopted by both houses of Congress before it is submitted to the President. We hope that the resolution will be adopted without delay by Congress to make it clear to the United States that the people, through their representatives, will not brook any insult to the sovereignty of their country.I notice that PDI studiously avoids mentioning the person they've just gotten in bed with here, SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR, chairman of that very same Oversight Committee of pro-GMA senators and congressmen, whose picture should really have accompanied the editorial as a cartoon. Notice also that the Subic Bay RAPE Case, is no longer really about rape, but international politics and the ideologies of resentment. The reality of it is, there has been no violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by either side, it was negotiated and approved by both countries in full faith and friendship years ago, and its operation has visibly and materially reduced the depredations and wild adventures of terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf. In its own statement defending the benefits of VFA for both countries, the US Embassy in Manila said,
The United States has the deepest respect for the sovereignty of its ally, the Philippines. From the first reports of the alleged rape involving US Marines, U.S. and Philippine authorities have collaborated closely on their respective investigations of the incident. As the case now moves to trial, under Philippine jurisdiction, we will continue to work together under the framework of an important bilateral agreement between our two countries - the Visiting Forces Agreement.Since its signing in 1998, the U.S. and the Philippines have conducted dozens of joint military exercises, training tens of thousands of U.S. and Philippine soldiers. These exercises have brought significant humanitarian assistance and community service to the Philippines.VOICE OF THE LEFT It's no secret that PDI is the Voice of the Left in the Philippines. They joined and encouraged militant activist organizations in the calls for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement almost from the very beginning of the rape case last October. I've addressed their position on the matter of the Subic Bay rape case (in which four US marines have been charged with raping a 22-year old Filipina last year) in two previous posts here at Philippine Commentary: Visiting Forces Aggrievement and A Little Yellow Journalism by Leftist Hatemongers.
For example, during one recent joint military exercise - "Talon Vision/PHIBLEX" - around 5,000 U.S. and Philippine soldiers trained together to improve interoperability and readiness, building professional relationships among our military forces. During the exercise, U.S. and Philippine soldiers renovated schools and classrooms in the Tarlac area, donated computers and school supplies, and provided free medical and dental services to more than 2,000 Philippine citizens. The VFA also governs the status of U.S. troops participating in disaster relief activities, such as the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who helped ferry relief supplies to the stricken provinces of Quezon and Aurora in December 2004.
GMA's GAMBIT But I think they are just being used by PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO in a major gambit to get back in the good graces of the United States, after her shameless treachery and self-preserving decision in the Angelo de la Cruz incident in Iraq, and her subsequent turn to China in the Southeast Asian arena. See my post America's Interests and the Fate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Come to think of it, these are the very same people who also portrayed for the President, an apocalyptic vision of public outrage against her during the Angelo de la Cruz kidnapping by Iraqi kidnap for ransom terrorists. Fearing for her own political survival, and against her own policy of never negotiating with or giving in to terrorist demands, GMA pulled out of the Coalition of the Willing. The Media spooked her then, they are trying to spook her again into doing something IDEOLOGICAL for the cause, not something the country really needs to do. Senator Dick Gordon is right though: Filipino-Americans ought to raise holy hell about this case in the US Media and not just beat our chests here in useless mortification at our own heedlessness of national interest. But AFTER signing agreements in good faith is not a good time to ABROGATE them unilaterally as some demand. (Expecting of course to fail so they can enter the usual next phase of these melodramatic episodes: eloquent rage and street protests in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.)
The President knows she is in DEEP TROUBLE. Practically all she has on her side now are the Trapos of Joe De Venecia. "Civil Society" and progressive media (like PDI) long decamped along with Cory Aquino and Frank Drilon. Even the Military is beginning to fall away from her control. I think that the the Palace has decided to use the Subic Bay Rape Case in a cynical gambit. GMA is using nationalist sentiments fanned by the Left for equally sinister purposes. It's an old trick to gain a measure of public support. She will use Manny Pacquiao in the same way when the champion returns later this week.
And so with her own allies in the Congress, led by Mad Miriam, calling for the renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (probably with Palace consent if not instigation), and the Left, emoting the usual ideologically-enshrined persecution complexes eloquently if illogically editorialized by PDI, GMA runs to Washington. (via ABSCBN News)
I hope they serve GMA cold salami at the White House reception, (if any), and show her the New Constitution of Democratic Iraq -- where the recently shed blood of Filipino American Soldiers--men and women, Filipinos and Americans, of true valor and unquestioned honor--waters a purple flower that grows in Babylon, in the Arab world's one and only constitutional democracy. While her own country has fallen to PARTLY FREE status. Read Our Love Goes To Democratic Iraq! and Freedom and Garci's Second Petition.
GMA AS NIXON, NOT BUSH! I think she is also hoping that the wiretapping controversy in America will give her some cover from the ongoing Senate Defense Committee investigations into the ISAFP activities during the 2004 elections. But we should be very clear about the difference in those two cases. The allegations against GMA point to her use of the Philippine Military for PARTISAN POLITICAL PURPOSES of spying on the political opposition and on her own mistrusted Elections Commissioner, Virgilio Garcillano. So if a comparison is to be made between GMA and a US President, it ought not to be to President George W. Bush, but Richard M. Nixon--for lying and spying and trying to get away with it. Certainly not to defend the nation.
But even Richard Nixon gains my greater respect for resigning once the jig was up.
FOUR MILLION FILIPINO-AMERICANS like me--human beings here in the Archipelago and on the Continent whose love and loyalties can never be divided between the two countries--have a great advantage of vision over the ideologically-blindered people at PDI and the Left, and even over most Americans who acknowledge no HYPHEN in their citizenship. We see clearly here where humanity ends and politics begins. Being BOTH Fiipinos and Americans we know the truth about each other, we have fewer illusions about one another. We know that BOTH Filipinos and Americans are good and decent people, who abhor rape and injustice. Our fates as nations and peoples are inextricably linked, by indissoluble ties of family and history and common, permanent interests. The Visiting Forces Agreement deserves to be periodically reviewed and improved, to strengthen the special bilateral relationship. That I agree with. But not throwing the baby out with the bath water or shooting our selves in the foot with our mouths.