5th INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR FOR PEACE AND
THE ABOLITION OF FOREIGN MILITARY BASES
Guantanamo, Cuba, May 4 to 6, 2017
THE PHILIPPINE STRUGGLE FOR THE
REMOVAL OF U.S. MILITARY BASES
(Paper contributed by the Philippine Peace and Solidarity Council)
The Philippines-USA Military Bases Agreement (MBA) was imposed by the USA upon the Philippines on March 14, 1947, and originally had a period of 100 years (or up to 2047). In 1966, during the first term of President Ferdinand Marcos, negotiations were held for the return to the Philippines of the smaller bases and for the reduction of the period of stay of the remaining US military bases. This led to the September 16, 1966 Agreement signed by then Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Narciso Ramos and US State Department Secretary Dean Rusk, which amended the MBA. The validity period was reduced to 25 years starting from that amendatory agreement, and the MBA was set to expire on September 16, 1991.
In January 1988, the US government through US Ambassador Nicholas Platt sent an Aide Memoire, not to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, but directly to President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, requesting the holding of a joint Philippine-US review of the MBA starting in April 1988. The US purpose was to ensure the retention of US military bases in the Philippines beyond 1991. The Philippines entered a critical period with all anti-imperialist forces joining ranks to campaign for the non-extension of the MBA beyond September 1991, even while the Cory Aquino regime was supported by US imperialism in rallying all local reactionary forces favoring the retention of US military bases beyond 1991.
The retention of US military bases in the Philippines was one of the main concerns of US imperialism in manipulating the events which led to the February 1986 change in administration from Marcos to Cory Aquino. US imperialism needed a new caretaker for the critical period within which the 1988 final renegotiation of the MBA would fall. Marcos would have signed any agreement for the extension of the US bases beyond 1991, so long as the Americans would similarly extend him in office. However, Marcos was already too discredited nationally and internationally, and any agreement that he would sign would also be discredited nationally and internationally. US imperialism needed a new caretaker for its Philippine neo-colony –- one with an aura of “popularity” drummed up by the western media, to ensure that the extension of the MBA would also be “acceptable”.
US imperialism wanted to retain the US military bases in the Philippines in order to serve its following “strategic interests” then : (1) “containing” the Soviet Union inside a ring of US military bases worldwide ; (2) supporting the build-up of the US military presence in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf ; (3) ensuring US control of “choke points” or strategic straits [the Malacca, Lombok and Sunda Straits] in the region ; (4) maintaining the capacity to militarily intervene anywhere in our region ; (5) safeguarding the USA’s politico-military and economic–cultural domination over the Philippines ; and (6) keeping a coercive influence over (or pointing a gun at the head of) any Philippine administration.
However, from the standpoint of the Filipino people’s own interests, there were eight (8) main reasons for the removal of all US military bases from the Philippines, which are the following :
1. THE PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES JEOPARDIZES THE VERY
EXISTENCE OF THE ENTIRE FILIPNO PEOPLE IN CASE OF A NUCLEAR WAR.
At that time, the USA was maintaining about 2,500 foreign military bases and tracking stations in 114 countries throughout the world, including 520 in Asia and the Pacific. The USA’s primary aim in maintaining overseas military bases was its mad desire to attain an overwhelming nuclear superiority – the capability of launching the concerted and decapitating “first strike” that it had often threatened against the USSR.
It is important to note that while the USSR and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have pledged not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and never to use any nuclear weapon against nuclear-weapon-free countries, the USA on the other hand had threatened many times to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries (Korea in the 1950s ; Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea in the 1960s and 1970s ; Cuba, Libya, Iran, etc). US military bases worldwide therefore serve as launching pads for nuclear war, and the removal of these foreign bases will help prevent US adventurism and nuclear war plans.
In the context of the international balance of nuclear forces, US military bases were in the Philippines not to prevent a nuclear attack on the Philippines, and not to defend the Philippines from such an attack. US military bases were in the Philippines and other parts of the world precisely to invite nuclear counter-attacks on these bases in case of a nuclear war.
According to US war strategists, the maintenance of US nuclear bases in foreign lands around the world would disperse any counter-attack after a US first-strike, thus deflecting a significant part of any counter-strike away from the US mainland.
The presence of US military bases in the Philippines therefore kept the very existence of the entire Filipino people hostage to the USA’s nuclear war plans. Having US nuclear bases here automatically made the Philippines a target, or a “magnet”, of nuclear counter-strikes. Only the removal of those bases would remove the Philippines from being a target of a nuclear counter-strike.
The world knows that there can be no survival in case of an all-out nuclear war. Human survival can only be assured by preventing nuclear war, and an important task in preventing nuclear war (and therefore assuring the survival of our people) is the removal of all foreign military bases from which nuclear war can be launched by design or by accident.
2. THE PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES THREATENS OUR COUNTRY
WITH NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION AND DEVASTATION IN CASE
OF A NUCLEAR-WEAPON ACCIDENT.
US military bases in the Philippines served as airports and seaports of nuclear-armed warplanes and warships. Clark Air Base (CAB) played host to F-4E fighter-bombers and B-52 bombers armed with nuclear bombs and missiles. Subic Naval Base (SNB) played host to guided missile cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines and other warships armed with nuclear weapons, as well as P-3 “Orion” anti-submarine bombers armed with nuclear depth charges.
As early as February 1975, the Center for Defense Information of the USA revealed that “nuclear weapons are in Korea and the Philippines.” The presence of nuclear weapons in US military bases here was further confirmed with the issuance on March 10, 1978, by the US Naval Commander of the Subic Naval Base, of directives concerning measures to be undertaken in case of a nuclear-weapon accident (CINCPAC-REP-PHIL INSTRUCTION 00020-1A, entitled “Nuclear Material Accidents/Significant Incidents”). Retired Rear-Admiral Gene LaRoque of the Center for Defense Information also testified before the US Congress in 1983 that nuclear weapons are hidden in the US military bases in the Philippines, and that most of the US warships calling at Subic Naval Base are armed with nuclear weapons.
With the presence of nuclear weapons, these bases may at any moment become the centers of devastating nuclear explosions in case of a computer malfunction, a plane crash, an accident in the handling of nuclear weapons, or any error by US servicemen controlling the nuclear weapons at these bases. A nuclear explosion may also result from criminal acts inasmuch as, according to the US Center for Defense Information (“Current Issues in US Defense Policy,” 1976, p. 198), more than 3,000 US servicemen having to do with nuclear weapons are found each year to be suffering from psychological problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, indiscipline or mental derangement.
In case of an accidental explosion of just a single one megaton nuclear weapon at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga province, this would mean the immediate death of all the residents of Pampanga province, the southern part of Tarlac province, and the adjoining parts of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Zambales and Bataan provinces. Everyone within a radius of 10 kilometers from the explosion could be turned into ashes with the instantaneous combustion of everything that is inflammable –- household cooking gas in tanks, fuel in tanks of vehicles and industrial plants, etc. Any structure within a distance of 20 kilometers from the explosion could be demolished by the blast wave, killing the occupants through multiple fractures from falling debris or through intense dust and smoke suffocation. Anyone within a radius of 50 kilometers who, by reflex, glances at the fireball at the time of explosion, could be blinded by the radiation that can burn the retinas of the eyes.
The radioactive fall-out from that explosion would immediately cover 70,000 square kilometers, or the area from Pangasinan province in the north, to Batangas province in the south (including Metropolitan Manila), where one-third of our country’s population reside. This radioactive fall-out would poison all food and water resources, render all structures inhabitable and all lands unproductive, doom the affected population to general debility and excruciating deaths, and create monstrous abnormalities and deformities among babies to be delivered by affected mothers. The longer-range medical, psychological, socio-economic, genetic and environmental damage to our nation would be incalcutable.
Every minute and every second therefore that US nuclear bases and weapons remain in our country, the Filipino people’s very existence is endangerd by the threat of accidental genocide.
3. THE PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES IN THE PHILIPPINES IS THE
MAIN THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INDEPENDENCE.
The US military bases were not here to protect us. Those bases were established by US colonial forces for the protection, furtherance and perpetuation of exploitative US interests, against the interests and against the will of the Filipino people.
The Filipino people never invited the setting up of US military bases in our country. These bases were set up as centers for the suppression of our people’s struggle for independence from the savage US occupation of our country at the turn of the last century. US colonialism and its most glaring aspect — US military bases — were established in the Philippines by the overwhelming forces of US aggression and the terror during that infamous period of US expansionism in Asia.
It was through outright invasion and terrorist suppression — including the burning of whole towns ; the herding of Filipino civilians into concentration camps ; the ravaging of wide areas declared as “free killing zones” ; and the systematization of inhuman torture, mutilations, executions, rape and plunder — that these colonial bases were foisted upon the Philippines.
During the 45 years of the direct US colonial period, these bases were used to suppress the heroic struggles of Filipino freedom fighters (who were branded by the US invaders as “insurrectos” or “brigands”), and to defend the consolidation and expansion of US economic, political and cultural control over our country.
After the so-called “grant” of Philippine independence in 1946, the US retention of those bases undermined our country’s independence and effectively buttressed the US imposition of exploitative economic and other neocolonial dictates on our country.
As before, the bases continued to protect and perpetuate the dominance of US interests over our economy, politics and other aspects of national life. Those bases continued to enforce the neocolonial system in the Philippines — the continued exploitation of our economy by transnational corporations ; the continued dictation by the World Bank, IMF and foreign creditor banks over our government policies ; the continued role of the USA as the main dispenser of political patronage to all the traditional political figures and family dynasties in our country (both in the administration and in the “opposition”) ; and the continued dominance of US influence over our mass media, educational system and culture.
Even the testimonies by US military and state department officials during the 1969 hearings of the US Senate’s Sub-Committee on US Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad clearly revealed that US bases were here only for the defense of what the USA considers to be her economic and other strategic interests in our country and in our region.
The overwhelming coercive power of those bases — the land, sea and air forces — are to be directly used for the outright reconquest and reoccupation (“Grenada-style”) of the Philippines should our people finally come to the firm determination of ridding our country of all the exploitative structures and practices of US imperialism. US military forces at these bases would be used as the final suppressant against the growing demand of the Filipino people for the removal of the neocolonial system which enriches US and other foreign investors while trapping the Filipino masses in the mire of poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease and illiteracy.
The presence in our country of US military base gives the USA the convenient power of threatening, destabilizing and overthrowing any government here. It is in this light that US policy-makers can boast of being the real kingmakers in our national politics, as exemplified by US State Secretary George Shultz’ statement (made during President Cory Aquino’s visit to Indonesia) that the US government will have no qualms in destabilizing her administration if the US government perceives that US interests are being jeopardized by her regime.
It should be remembered that the role of the US military bases and forces in the Philippines was the crucial factor in the February 1986 change of government from Ferdinand Marcos to Cory Aquino. The coup d’etat attempt launched against Marcos by his Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and his Constabulary Chief Fidel V. Ramos had miserably failed, and the coup ringleaders cooped up at Camps Crame and Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Metropolitan Manila, appealed for US help to save their skins. With the dependence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on US communication equipment, direct orders to AFP field commanders were being issued by US embassy and military officers, using superior facilities. US orders ensured the massive defection of AFP units to the side of the failed coup ringleaders in Camps Crame and Aguinaldo, and US embassy and military officers warned the Marcos-loyalist forces in the AFP against attacking Camps Crame and Aguinaldo.
Clark Air Base became the center of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) units which defected to the Enrile-Ramos side. PAF planes and helicopter gunships were refueled and resupplied at the Clark Air Base by USAF forces in order to give air cover for Camps Crame and Aguinalso, and to bomb the Malacañang Presidential Palace to force Marcos to leave. Finally, with US gunboats reportedly ready to help storm Malacañang Palace, Marcos had to accept his family’s evacuation from Malacañang Palace to Clark Air Base by USAF helicopters. Thereafter, the USA physically determined Marcos’ destination, and flew him and his family and entourage to Hawaii.
The US junking of their former “right arm in Asia” (i.e., Marcos), did not mean that US forces here would consistently support their new caretaker in the Philippine government (i.e., Cory Aquino). The loyalty of the US forces here is only to their own interests, and as they found it convenient to destabilize even the Aquino regime to keep her regime dependent upon and subservient to the USA, US military advisers (led by Lt. Col. Victor Raphael) were also involved in the August 1987 and other coup attempts against Cory Aquino by ultra-rightist elements in the AFP.
While US bases and forces remain in the Philippines, the USA will always have the same manipulative and coercive powers over any Philippine administration. It should be remembered too that US military bases have served as instigators of military coups in the past in such host countries as South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Panama also suffered outright intervention from the US military forces in the Panama Canal Zone. US military bases and forces in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and other countries in the US “backyard” of Latin America have in the past been the determining factors in the rise and fall of their “banana regimes.”
The history of the US role in deposing their own puppets Syngman Rhee, Ngo Dinh Diem and Ferdinand Marcos, should be convincing proof that the only purpose of US military bases is to defend the exploitative and aggressive US interests in their host countries and regions.
4. THE PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES WAS ONLY
FORCED UPON THE PHILIPPINES
The US military bases were established against the will, and against the interests, of the Filipino people during the period of the US colonial subjugation and occupation of the Philippines. The retention of these bases after the so-called “grant” of independence in 1946 was again forced against the will and against the interests of the Filipino people.
Even the Philippine “Commonwealth” legislature under the US colonial government objected to the presence of US military bases when it rejected the 1933 Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act of the US Congress which provided for the maintenance of US military bases in the Philippines after the “grant” of independence. The concurrent Resolution of the Philippine legislature called the retention of US military bases in the Philippines after independence as “inconsistent with true independence…(and) violates national dignity.” Upon representation by a Philippine Independence Mission to the US Congress, the Hare-Hawes-Cutting act was replaced by the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Law which provided for the removal of US military bases (except for “naval reservations and fuelling stations” whose presence shall be subject to negotiations within two years after the grant of independence).
However, during the grim period of the Second World War (i.e., without consultation with the Filipino people), the US Congress passed a Joint Congressional Resolution on June 29, 1944, revising the Tydings-McDuffie Law and giving the US president the authority to secure US military bases in the Philippines after the grant of independence.
The Philippines was devastated during the Second World War, particularly as a result of US carpet-bombings during the US re-invasion and re-occupation of the Philippines from the end of 1944 to February 1945. Manila became known as the “Warsaw of the East”, having been almost totally turned to rubble by US carpet-bombings supposedly to root out the suicidal Japanese hold-outs. The Philippine economy lay in ruins, and the tasks of Philippine reconstruction were staggering in the face of widespread social problems and corrupted values spawned by the torments, brutality and deprivations of the war. Black-marketing of relief and surplus goods, ‘backpay” rackets and crimes were widespread. Impoverished children were selling their sisters to the GI’s who earlier had bombed their homes. Paramilitary “civilian guards” (the post-war version of today’s “vigilantes”) were widely organized by warlords out to regain their pre-war estates that the peasants occupied during the war.
Political warlords, tainted with the crime of collaborating with the Japanese invaders, were reinstalled into office by US design. With US support, the presidency was won by Manuel Roxas, a minister of the Japanese puppet government who was saved from trial before the People’s Tribunal only by US intercession. At that time, former Japanese puppets saved from prison by US intervention were the most convenient puppets in the transition to neo-colonial “independence.”
Economic assistance in the reconstruction of our country was willfully withheld by the USA, and was made conditional on Philippine acceptance of neo-colonial agreements such as the granting to the USA of military bases and “parity rights” (the equal right of US citizens, similar to Filipino citizens, to engage in any business in the Philippines). It therefore appears that the Philippines was intentionally ruined in the process of US re-occupation, so that the USA can thereafter impose neo-colonial conditions in exchange for relief and reconstruction “aid” (which “aid” primarily benefitted the US puppets in the new “independent” government).
To ensure the elimination of an effective opposition to the US imposition of “parity rights” and military bases, the puppet Roxas regime prevented elected nationalists and anti-collaborators belonging to the Democratic Alliance party from assuming their positions in Congress when the first “independent” Congress opened on May 28, 1946. A campaign of terror (dubbed as “counter-insurgency”) was also unleashed against patriotic organizations which were campaigning against US military bases and “parity rights”. Government forces openly used the para-military “civilian guards” of local warlords to hunt down leaders and members of patriotic organizations.
Peace talks with the restive HUKBALAHAP (anti-Japanese guerrilla) veterans and the PKM (National Federation of Peasants) were effectively sabotaged by the ultra-rightists through the kidnap-murder on August 24, 1946, of peasant leader Juan Feleo who was on the way to Manila with government escorts to conduct negotiations with the government. Widespread indignation was met with more repression under the puppet government’s “mailed first policy” against the restive masses.
It was under these abnormal and highly scandalous circumstances that US imperialism and its Roxas puppet regime forced upon the Filipino people the Military Bases Agreement of March 14, 1947, which was an executive agreement that was never ratified by the Philippine legislature or by the Filipino people.
5. THE U.S. MILITARY BASES IN THE PHILIPPINES ARE LAUNCHING PADS
OF U.S. AGGRESSION AGAINST OUR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES, AND
ARE THEREFORE CREATING ENEMIES FOR THE PHILIPPINES.
Since the time that US forces established military bases in the course of their conquest of the Philippines, these military bases have been used as launching pads of US aggression against our neighboring countries. In 1900, US expeditionary forces rushed from the Philippines helped to crush the Chinese people’s “Boxer Rebellion” which nearly overwhelmed the western colonialist enclave in Beijing.
In 1918-1919, in the wake of the Great October Socialist Revolution which overthrew the imperialist system in Russia in 1917, US expeditionary forces from the Philippines conquered Vladivostok, large parts of eastern Siberia, and the Pacific maritime territories of Soviet Russia. While Western propaganda media continue to harp about a “Soviet threat” to the USA and the whole world, they never mention that it was the US, Japanese and European imperialist forces which invaded and pillaged many parts of the young Soviet state in 1918 to 1919.
In 1949, Philippine-based units of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet helped to prevent the newly-established People’s Republic of China from incorporating the island of Formosa (now Taiwan) as part of its territory. In 1954 and 1958, Philippine-based units of the US 7th Fleet were rushed to the Formosa Strait in the wake of the Quemoy-Matsu shelling incidents.
In 1950-53, US military bases in the Philippines were used as launching pads of US aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). That war of aggression saw the US destruction by carpet-bombing of Pyongyang and other major population centers of the DPRK, and the crossing by US troops across the Yalu river into the territory of the People’s Republic of China. To cover up their blatant intervention in the internal affairs of the Korean people, and their perfidious attack against the DPRK, the USA dragged other countries into participating in their war of aggression against the Korean people. The Philippines was forced to send two army battalions (the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, or PEFTOK) to fight alongside the US forces of aggression against the Korean people. Impartial studies have shown that the USA, while using the myth of a “North Korean attack”, was the real aggressor in that war. In retrospect, the Philippines is discovering itself in the shameful position of having been involved in that US war of aggression which has perpetuated the division of the Korean nation.
In May 1958, at the height of the US-instigated “Black Colonels’ Revolt” in Indonesia against President Sukarno, Clark Air Base and the US-controlled Sanga-Sanga airstrip in the southern Mindanao island of Tawi-Tawi, were used to resupply the coup leaders and to bomb the Sukarno strongholds in Sumatra and Sulawesi. A US Air Force B-26 bomber was shot down over Ambon during a bombing run, and the CIA pilot, Allen Pope, admitted to having taken off originally from Clark Air Base. The Sukarno government nearly broke off diplomatic relations with the Philippines, and again, the Philippines found itself on the side of the aggressor due to the presence in our territory of the aggressive US military bases.
In the 1960s and up to 1975, US military bases in the Philippines were used as launching pads of US aggression against Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea. Even as early as the mid-1950s, these bases were already involved in the CIA’s “Operation Brotherhood” civic action programs in Indochina, which programs involved Filipino doctors, nurses, teachers and intelligence agents. Since the so-called “Gulf of Tonkin incident” (an alleged “North Vietnamese attack” on 2 US navy ships in August 1964) which the USA used as the “justification” for militarily intervening in Indochina, the US bases in the Philippines have been used as transshipment and loading ports for the bombs, artillery shells, missiles, napalm, defoliants and toxic chemicals that the US forces rained on Indochina.
Again, in retrospect and in the light of US Congressional finding that the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” was a myth, the Philippines found itself in the abominable position of having aided the USA’s barbarous war against the Indochinese peoples. The Philippines not only served as a “catapult” for devastating US strikes against Vietnam, but even sent more than 2,000 troopers under the so-called Philippine Civic Action Group (PHILCAG) to help the US forces occupy a part of Southern Vietnam.
In 1979, US Rapid Deployment Forces (RDFs) were rushed from Subic Naval Base to the Persian Gulf in the wake of the overthrow by the Iranian people of the US-propped Shah Reza Pahlavi regime. Thereafter, the US military bases in the Philippines served as transit and resupply points for the beefing up of the US military presence in the Persian Gulf, in the Indian Ocean, and in Diego Garcia.
In all the above, the Philippines served a mercenary role as a major host of US forces which undertook subversive, interventionist and even aggressive actions against our fellow Asian countries. As such, the US military bases have created enemies for the Philippines from among our Asian neighbors who should all be our friends.
6. THE PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES IS A BLATANT DEROGATION
OF OUR TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY AND NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.
Despite the 1979 renegotiation of the military bases agreement which redefined the bases as “Philippine bases”, allowed the Philippine flag to fly over the bases, and provided for the assignment of a “Filipino Base Commander,” the presence in our country of those bases and the “unhampered right of military operations” of US forces in our country were a palpable negation of our territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
A country which allows foreign military forces to occupy parts of its territory, which allows the unhampered access and military operations of the occupying forces over its whole territory (including seas and airspace), which begs for “aid” from the foreign occupiers who exploit its people, and which stands helpless before the flagrant violation of its laws by the occupying forces, cannot expect respect from the community of independent nations. Such a country deserves the pejorative description of a neo-colony –- a puppet of imperialism.
With the presence of US military bases and forces on its territory, the Philippines was always considered by the world community as a mercenary or lackey of aggressive US policies. With the presence of those bases, the Philippines never deserved membership in the prestigious Non-Aligned Movement. With the presence of those bases, the Philippines alone stood for a long time as the stumbling-block to the realization of a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) in the ASEAN region. While being the only country hosting foreign military bases in the ASEAN region, the Philippines degenerated into a miserably mendicant country of this region.
What self-respect can a people have when their children are shot or raped for approaching or allegedly “trespassing” on their own lands occupied by foreign powers? The November 24, 1964 murder of 16-year old Rogelio Balagtas, who was shot while scavenging for metal scraps about 300 meters away from the US-controlled Crow Valley gunnery range, has remained unpunished. The murderer, USAF Airman First Class Larry Cole, was spirited out of the country by Clark Air Base officials after he alleged that he merely mistook Balagtas for a “wild boar”.
The December 13, 1964 shooting of two Filipino fishermen (one of whom was killed) 100 meters off Subic Naval Base, has also remained unpunished. The murderers, Marine Corporals James Thomas and Jesse Edwards, were similarly spirited out of the country by Subic Naval Base officials. It was just like killing “wild fish.” Maybe a case of killing “wild birds” was the 1985 “buzzing” of a Philippine Air Lines (PAL) trainer plane by a USAF Phantom jet over Pangasinan province, which caused the crash of the PAL trainer plane and the death of the flight instructor and the pilot-trainee. The case also remains unsolved, with the involved USAF pilots being merely transferred out of the country by Clark Air Base officials.
Also merely forgotten were the numerous cases of girl scavengers who were raped or molested by US servicemen inside the base dumps, the cases of attack dogs being unleashed against children approaching or allegedly “trespassing” upon the bases, the bombing of houses and crops around the Crow Valley gunnery range, the molesting of women and unauthorized searching of homes around the bases by US servicemen, and other crimes. Of around 50 cases of murder, rape, physical injuries and other serious crimes filed against US servicemen, none of the accused ever faced Philippine courts, with base authorities merely issuing certifications that the crimes were committed in the course of the “performance of duty” by the accused.
7. U.S. MILITARY BASES BREED PROSTITUTION, DRUG-PUSHING,
GUN-RUNNING, SMUGGLING, BLACK MARKETING
AND OTHER ORGANIZED CRIMES.
With the presence of those bases being the most glaring proof of the corruption, prostitution and vileness of the local regimes allowing their presence, the Philippines earned the stigma of being the center of prostitution, crime, corruption and immorality in our region.
Ensnared and victimized by the corrupting influence of the US military bases, no less than 20,000 poor Filipina women and girls have become prostitutes around those bases. Most have fallen prey to white slavery rings financed by US servicemen and retirees, and other foreign gangsters. With the presence of US military bases, the Philippines became noted as a cheap R-and-R (“rest-and-recreation”, or sex and booze) joint for US servicemen.
As transit points in the drug trade which extends from the poppy fields of the “Golden Triangle” to the junkie joints in the USA, the US military bases in the Philippines served as centers of drug syndicates in our country. No less than 5,000 drug addicts were under rehabilitation around those bases in the late 1980s, with many thousands more leading self-destructive lives as captives of drug syndicates and other related crime rings. Among the other crime rings which gravitated around those bases were the gun-running syndicates which sold arms to local warlords ; the smuggling syndicates which facilitated the entry of “PX” goods that caused ruinous competition against local manufacturers ; and the dollar blackmarketing syndicates which served as conduits for foreign exchange flight.
The cruelty, baseness and sordidness of the social ills bred by the US bases was starkly illustrated by the rise of sadism and perversion around those bases. A case in point was the 1982 rape of ten Olongapo children (aged 9 to 14 years old, who were moreover infected with herpes, secondary syphilis and even gonorrhea of the rectum) by US Navyman Daniel Dougherty. Another evil bred by the US bases was the rise in the trafficking of children for the sex trade, which victimized countless children around the bases, including Rosario Baluyot who was raped by several foreigners and who later died of infection from a broken vibrator tip that got lodged in her vagina.
By the late 1980s, about 50 cases of full-blown AIDS have been confirmed among entertainers in the sex strips around Clark Air Base. Expenses for the proper testing of susceptible people, and for the monitoring and control of the then-rising HIV-AIDS epidemic, were estimated to be more than the amount of US economic assistance to the Philippines.
It was a crying shame that the exploitation of Filipina women and the perversion of children around the US military bases have worsened under the regime of Cory Aquino, the woman president who ran for office under the slogan of morality.
8. THE CONTINUED PRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES IN OUR COUNTRY
WAS CONTRARY TO THE INTERNATIONAL TREND TOWARDS
DISARMAMENT, TOWARDS THE REMOVAL OF FOREIGN
MILITARY FORCES, AND TOWARDS NON-ALIGNMENT
AMONG DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
The campaign for the removal of US military bases from the Philippines at the end of the 1980s was favored by the then international trend towards disarmament, which aimed not only at freeing mankind from the threat of nuclear genocide, but also at removing the foreign military presence of powerful countries, and strengthening non-alignment among developing countries. This trend had been earlier laid by the 1975 Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and has led to the lessening of tensions in that continent, and to the considerable reduction of conventional forces in Eastern Europe.
In 1975 also, Thailand booted out US military bases after the ignominious end of the US war of aggression against Vietnam and the other Indochinese countries. In 1987, in order to lessen tensions in Asia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea unilaterally transferred 100,000 men from its armed forces to the civilian sector of its economy, while the People’s Republic of China demobilized one million servicemen.
The December 1987 US-Soviet agreement on the elimination of all their medium and short-range nuclear missiles had alredy led to the dismanting of Soviet bases in the German Democratic Republic and in Czechoslovakia, and to the reduction of US forces in western Europe. Soviet forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 1989, Vietnamese forces were withdrawn from Kampuchea (Cambodia) in 1990, and Indian peacekeeping forces were withdrawn from northern Sri Lanka also in 1990.
In May 1987, the Soviet Union had called for the removal of all nuclear weapons and foreign military bases from the Asia-Pacific region, for the withdrawal of naval flotillas beyond agreed lines, and for respect for Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones. With this background and general trend, the continued presence of US military bases in the Philippines, a country which faces no external threat, had become an indefensible anachronism.
The dismantling of the USA’s overseas military bases had by then become a historic imperative. The 1984 declaration of New Zealand as a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone had dismantled the ANZUS (Australia-NewZealand-US military alliance) bloc, and put an end to any US military presence in New Zealand. The 1985 declaration by the 12-nation South Pacific Forum of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone had further bolstered the legal basis for the restriction of the US military presence in the Pacific. This was despite the fact that the USSR and the PRoC were the only nuclear powers which have acceded to the Rarotonga Treaty’s 3 Protocols banning nuclear powers from testing, bringing (or dumping), and using or threatening to use, nuclear weapons and materials in or against any South Pacific Forum country.
At that time, movements for the removal of US military bases were also gaining wider and more militant adherents in South Korea and Japan. There was also wider opposition to the renegotiation and extension of US military bases treaties in Portugal, Turkey and Australia. The campaign for the removal of US military bases from the Philippines also had strong parallels in similar campaigns for the removal of US military bases from Spain and Greece (whose prime ministers, Felipe Gonzales and Andreas Papandreou, respectively, were both elected on anti-US-bases platforms).
In campaigning among the people, the anti-US-bases movement in the Philippines continued to harp on the above 8 main reasons for the removal of US military bases from the Philippines. That campaign exposed the mercenary nature of the Cory Aquino camp which proposed a 10-year extension of the Military Bases Agreement on the basis of the US promise of economic assistance.
The anti-US-bases campaign drew the support of the majority of the members of the Philippine Senate, which rejected the Cory Aquino proposal by a vote of 12 vs. 11 on September 16, 1991. That Senate vote rejecting the renewal of the Military Bases Agreement was similar to a Philippine Declaration of Independence from US imperial control, and was the happiest day in the lives of many Filipinos.
With the rejection of the renewal of the Military Bases Agreement, thousands of US military personnel began to leave the Philippines, and the dismantling of US military facilities at the Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base was completed by the end of 1992. Thereafter, the economic conversion of these 2 bases into civilian business centers began in earnest. The former Clark Air Base is now an international airport, while the former Subic Naval Base is now a ship-building and ship-repair center. Tourist hotels, malls and leisure centers have been developed in both these former military bases.
One of the 12 senators who voted against the retention of US military bases –- former screen actor Joseph “Erap” Estrada –- went on to win the presidency in 1998. Unable to resist US pressures, he signed in 1999 the US-proposed “Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)” which allows US forces to stay at Philippine military camps for “visits” to conduct joint military exercises with Philippine forces. The VFA was ratified by a more pliant Philippine Senate on May 27, 1999, and has since become a main issue in the continuing Philippine struggle for national liberation. Despite giving in to the US demand for the VFA, President Estrada continued to be on the receiving end of a US-supported campaign for his ouster. Estrada was finally ousted from the presidency in a bloodless coup on January 20, 2001, without even completing half of his presidential term. Apparently, the US imperialists never forgave him for his role in voting against the renewal of the Military Bases Agreement in 1991.
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