Friday, February 20, 2009

Scrap the VFA now!

Press Statement
February 20, 2009
Renato Magtubo

The secret VFA document exposed by Sen. Joker Arroyo is the latest in a string of arguments to hang the iniquitous agreement. The secret document is an insult that adds to the injury of Daniel Smith’s contempt of our justice system.

The VFA must be scrapped now. It was ratified by the Senate in 1999 and 10 years of an unequal treaty is much too long already. This secret document is slap in the face of the Philippine Senate and Filipino people since it was hidden from public knowledge. The Senate cannot waste any time in abrogating the VFA.

From the very start the VFA was one-sided. While it was approved by the Philippine Senate, the US Senate did not ratify it. Thus even its status as a bilateral treaty is questionable.

Now this secret document shows as clear as day that the VFA violates diplomatic principles of reciprocity and mutuality. An American GI who has committed a crime, like Daniel Smith, can enjoy the comforts of their embassy but a Filipino soldier can only be incarcerated in a US jail as provided for by this secret paper.

This episode of the VFA secret document and Daniel Smith’s case should be transformed into an opportunity to reorient out foreign policy. Just like how the global crisis and its deleterious impact on our economy should be an occasion for a paradigm shift in our economic model.

The VFA is no different from the unequal Military Bases Agreement and the WTO is similar to the neocolonial Parity Rights treaty. The military policy of the US seeks to advance its economic agenda not our national interests. It is high time to chart an independent foreign policy together with a development model predicated on local industrialization.

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