Solons renew call for VFA review

October 20, 2010

 Mario B. Casayuran
Tempo
October 20, 2010

 

The United States throws breadcrumbs to the Philippines for enjoying “first class amenities” while being given military access to the country but gives champagne and caviar to other countries just to allow its troops access to their territories.

This, in a nutshell, is the situation of the Philippines in relation to the controversial RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as summed up by Sen. Francisco Pangilinan who joined his colleagues in calling for a renew of the agreement.

Citing lopsidedness of the treaty that puts the country at a disadvantage, Pangilinan said it is time “to correct the onerous arrangement and even up the score.”

“This is about regaining our sell-respect as a nation and we most certainly deserve it,” he added. It was Pangilinan who initiated calls last year for the abrogation of the VFA.

“After over a decade of the VFA, are we more secure as a nation? Are our armed forces better equipped and trained to address security issues? Have we benefited militarily as envisioned by the agreement? Or has it been a lopsided agreement favoring the Americans, who have been able to stay here indefinitely, enjoying basing arrangements without paying us?” he asked.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, former chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, said that the VFA is “defective” since it has no expiry date and there is no limit to what the US government wants to do in the country.

Santiago said that the US made the Philippine its headquarters to safeguard its interest such as having a look on the regional activities of China, Japan, and India.

She suggested that the US should buy or lease a part of Mindanao instead of using the VFA.

In so far as Pangilinan is concerned, the US should “pay up or leave.”

“If they don’t put up where their mouths are, then they should pack up and leave. They are ‘enjoying first class amenities’ yet are paying dirt cheap rates. They are renting a mansion at a rate fit for a shanty,” he said.

Pangilinan recalled that the US is giving billions of dollars to Pakistan in military aid just to allow US troops access to their territory.

“We get a few used Huey helicopters and one or two C130 airplanes that have seen better days,” he said.