National Council of Churches in the Philippines Statement on the Visit of US President Barack Obama
The visit by U.S.President Barack Obama to the Philippines over the coming days is being drummed up as a significant event for the “friendship” of both countries. This is not a friendly visit at all. Its main purpose is the signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC). The AEDC will give the U.S. the right to use Philippine military facilities for up to 20 years subject to renewal.
The visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Philippines over the coming days is being drummed up as a significant event for the “friendship” of both countries. This is not a friendly visit at all. Its main purpose is the signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC). The AEDC will give the U.S. the right to use Philippine military facilities for up to 20 years subject to renewal.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) has consistently spoken for peace in the past 50 years. Thus, the NCCP strongly opposes this new accord which will allow more U.S. troops, aircrafts and ships to be stationed in Philippine military camps. We understand that the new agreement is in line with US military, economic and political influence and interest in the Asian region. The military agenda of the US is closely tied to its economic agenda of extracting resources and wealth from the region and ensuring trade relationships. These are not to the best interest of the less developed countries.
The US is pursuing its military-strategic realignment referred to as the ‘pivot to Asia.’ The objective is to locate greater numbers of military personnel and assets in the region to counter the growing influence of China. The pressure on the Philippines to accept a new security accord with allowances for increased US presence has been intense. Our political leaders are complicit in supporting the US agenda, rather than protecting Philippine sovereignty and patrimony.
We reiterate NCCP’s consistent stand against an over reliance by the Philippines on the military strength and assets of the United States. Peace cannot be achieved through the might of horses and chariots. The presence of a foreign army in our land is a direct challenge to our national sovereignty and integrity. The exchanges and compromises to allow greater US military access to many areas in the Philippines are an affront to our sovereignty. The rationales put forward to support them make the sovereign interests of the Philippines subservient to those of the United States of America. That is neither friendship nor partnership.
While the sovereignty concerns over areas of the West Philippine Sea are being addressed through international legal mechanisms, the view that the US-Philippine military alliance adds strength to the Philippine position is being propagated. Yet, trusting in military might, especially that of foreign nations, cannot lead to a long term environment of global peace. Instead, it puts the Philippines into the vulnerable position – caught up in international conflicts that are not in our national interest or serve the real security of our people. Foreign intervention is “a travesty against God’s will” (Statement on Growing US Military Intervention in the Philippines, NCCP General Convention, Nov. 17-21, 2003).
Military operations within the country conducted under the guise of joint exercises led to direct exploitation of our women and children and with US military personnel treated deferentially under the law even when serious charges have been brought against them such as rape. In the past, joint military exercises have resulted in human rights abuses, displacement of communities, the destruction of our natural environment through live fire operations; and, an increased militarization of the country with many human rights violations associated to it.
On this occasion of President Obama’s visit, we pray for the enlightenment of our government leaders to the end that they will uphold our national sovereignty and promote our people’s interests. We also call on the government to allow peaceful assemblies and not muffle protests so that people may express themselves in a democratic manner.
We call on the people to remain steadfast in guarding our sovereignty. Let us neither be deceived nor coerced to submit to this agreement that will add to our state of unpeace and proliferation of violence. This steadfastness stems from our faith in the Risen Christ who banished evil and who by his life, death and resurrection has shown us the way of genuine concern for the whole of creation. His promise of abundant life is not for some future time. It is for us to experience it in the resurrection of our Lord, made real and possible here and now because of the explosion of God’s love and justice everywhere. Vigilant people are children of the resurrection who heartily believe that “never again should we ever be under the yoke of slavery.”
THE MOST REVEREND EPHRAIM S. FAJUTAGANA
Obispo Maximo XII
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
General Secretary, NCCP