So America’s awesome military is now well on its way to staging a triumphant return to the shores of its bosses’ hapless former colony. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) “highlights” the recent meeting between Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and US President Barack Obama. However, reports abound that many Filipinos supposedly aren’t happy with the deal which, in practice, works around constitutional bars against many forms of US troop deployment within Philippine territory. While the rhetoric surrounding this negativity may be loud, it is old and lame.Militant group Gabriela (supposedly a champion of “womens’ issues”), for example, expressed fears that the increase in US troop deployments to the Philippines will result in an increase in crime around areas where they are stationed. According to Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan “the country could see a rise in women and child abuse cases as a result of the 10-year defense deal that will allow greater US military presence in the country.”
“They will still violate and go around the provisions. Tayo pa rin ang dehado.”
Ilagan said aside from a possible rise in cases of human rights violations, the defense pact can also cause damage to the country’s environment.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares shared Ilagan’s sentiment against the deal. “Ang daming nangyaring krimen noong panahon ng bases – rape, child prostitution, illegal drugs, human rights violations – mayroon ka bang nalaman na isang Amerikanong na-convict?”
Ilagan seems to conveniently forget, however, that many of the most heinous crimes in the Philippines are perpetrated by Filipinos themselves. Indeed, it is likely that crime that can be directly attributed to American military personnel is statistically insignificant. Indeed, the most recent high-profile crackdowns on child abuse in the Philippines were, in fact, initiated by foreign law enforcement agencies. This is another example of the way Filipinos are motivated by foreign pressure first before any self-initiative. Left to their own devices, local law enforcement agencies will have likely left that cancer to fester right under their noses.
Ilagan should also consider the tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of Filipino lives that were saved and relieved of their misery by the awesome might of the US military back in late 2013 after super typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. If there were “victims” of “human rights violations” supposedly perpetrated by US troops in the past, as Ilagan points out, maybe that bit of math will put things in a bit more perspective for the honourable party-list “representative”. Perhaps Ilagan should, instead, spend her days going after her colleagues in government who make a killing syphoning off money intended for the rehabilitation of the disaster areas.
More to the point, the country is currently reeling from a vast corruption scandal, the scale of which investigators and observers alike are only beginning to understand. Though top members of the Philippine Senate have been implicated (and many more have yet to be revealed) in this appalling case of national plunder, many Filipinos doubt that any of these officials, most of whom are backed by large, powerful, and wealthy political machines, will ever see a day in prison.
Suffice to say, there are other, more pressing things Filipino “activists” should be worrying about than, say, American GI’s on Philippine soil. Perhaps they should keep the heat on pork barrel thieves and murderous Mindanao warlords like Andal Ampatuan rather than on a country and its government that, according to recent research, Filipinos love. In short, the Filipino people’s enemy is not America — it is themselves and the government they’ve built for themselves. It’s high time our so-called “activists” figure that out.[Photo courtesy UPI.]
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