By Gerry Albert Corpuz, anchor, all voices.com
MANILA, Philippinees- (UPDATE)The Philippine government is now building a mini naval base in Spratlys reigme of islands to accomodate US military troops participating in the yearly RP-US joint military exercises or Balikatan (Shoulder-to-shoulder).
"The plan of the Manila government to build a seaport in one of its controlled islands in West Philippine Sea confirms our assessment that the US government is very much inclined to build a mini-naval base in Spratlys to host American troops who regularly come to the country for the yearly Balikatan exercises," said the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a press statement.
The seaport which the Philippine government wants to construct in Pag-asa, Hicap said, will eventually be converted into a de facto mini-naval base for incoming and outgoing US troops who take part in the RP-US joint military exercises. "The country's controlled areas in Spratlys are slowly but surely being transformed into new US mini-naval bases with complete amenities including rest and recreation facilities for Washington troops.
We have a new Okinawa on the rise," the Pamalakaya leader added. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday announced the Aquino government's plan to build the pier on the largest of the five Philippine-occupied islands, known as Thitu, but which it calls Pag-asa. The DFA in a press statement, asserted the country exercises sovereignty over Pag-asa island and therefore it can establish a seaport in Pag-asa and four other islands in West Philippine Sea.
But Pamalakaya accused President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the Washington government of turning Palawan island province into a full-blown naval base for US troops who will be redeployed to the country once they leave their naval base in Okinawa, Japan.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France theorized that the next joint US-PH military exercises in Palawan and the rest of Luzon Island scheduled on April 16-27, 2012 is a preparatory stage for the establishment of mini-naval bases in Palawan and all over the country which would cater to US troops in short-term and long-term stay in the country. The AFP said this year’s Balikatan will deal on responsive partnership with the community focusing on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR) Training.
According to AFP, more than 6,000 US troops will take part in the PH-US Balikatan exercises. Aside from US troop, development officials and staff of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United States Pacific Command, United Nations Country Team, United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Program (WFP) and the International Federation of the Red Cross will join the US troops.
The development groups will essay civilian support part with their counterparts from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Metro Manila Disaster Coordinating Council (MMDCC), AFP, and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
Local military officials said the exercise aims to enhance the AFP and US Armed Forces interoperability in the conduct of not only on traditional military training but also on non-traditional aspects that reach out communities in need of urgent assistance.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya urged the Senate and the House committees on foreign relations to undertake a joint or separate congressional inquiries on the plan of the executive department to build a seaport in Spratlys. The militant group said the Aquino government and the Philippine military are hiding something big and sinister from the Filipino people, including the establishment of mini naval bases in West Philippine Sea to accommodate US troops who will be redeployed from Okinawa to the Philippines.
Pamalakaya noted that while there are several resolutions in both Congress calling for a review of VFA, including one authored by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and other one authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, the committees on foreign relations have yet to act on these legislative measures. Malacanang has repeatedly denied reports that the Aquino administration has granted rights to US troops for permanent basing, although it did not deny that it is asking the US government to increase the number of American troops participating in the yearly Balikatan exercises under the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a press statement sent to all voices also denounced President Aquino as "a pimp for the US imperialists in allowing the US military to trample on Philippine sovereignty by inviting the increasing presence of American interventionist troops in exchange for a few second-hand obsolete military hardware.
The CPP issued the statement in response to foreign secretary Alberto del Rosario offer to Washington government for greater access and use of air fields and sea ports to dock and launch US military warships, deploy US military planes, station and launch surveillance drones, carry out more frequent "joint exercises" and provide for requirements for increasing US military presence and intervention in the Philippines.
"The Aquino regime is virtually offering the entire Philippines to be used by the US as a big military base and allow it all-out latitude to use the intervene in the internal military affairs of the country and use it as a platform for waging wars of intervention and conducting power-projection operations in line with its hegemonist objectives in the Asia-Pacific," said the CPP.
Last month, news about near future talks between foreign affairs and defense officials of the US and Philippine governments graced the international and national headlines on the request of US President Barack Obama to allow increase in the presence of US troops in the country.
Likewise, part of the negotiating terms is the setting up of more military facilities for use of the American military. According to Philippine foreign affairs department, the US military also wants among others to have access to half a dozen civilian airfields to host its military planes and surveillance drones.
The CPP maintained that for more than ten years now, the US military has already had virtually complete access to camps and bases of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). A 600-strong contingent of US soldiers under the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF-Philippines) has been stationed in an exclusive area within the AFP Western Mindanao's Camp Navarro headquarters in Zamboanga City.
"The Aquino regime is displaying outright puppetry and serving as a neocolonial adjunct of the US imperialists," said the CPP. "It is propagating a perverted sense of national sovereignty, one that is dependent on the favors of its masters, in a desperate attempt to fool the Filipino people and make them accept the total surrender of national freedom."
The CPP likewise condemned the Aquino government for "exerting all-out effort to allow more and more American troops to use the Philippines as a platform for its interventionist operations, then misrepresent these as part of efforts of the Philippines to defend its sovereignty." Del Rosario said the Aquino regime "(wants) the Americans to come more often" as part of efforts "to build-up minimum credible defense" and "protect (Philippine) sovereignty." "Defense of Philippine sovereignty is the exact opposite of the objectives of the US in its interventionism and building-up of military presence in the Philippines," said the CPP.
"By being increasingly reliant on US military support in exchange for allowing the US to build up its military presence and carry-out interventionist operation, the more the Philippines is unable to enhance its ability to stand as a self-reliant sovereign nation and defend its national freedom."