Sat. Mar 6th, 2021
EMBASSY ROW
Reynaldo O. Arcilla

I feel sick to the pit of my stomach whenever I hear or read about the argument advanced by the critics of the termination of the VFA, including some senators and congressmen who should know better, that we stand to lose US aid and grants.

This is sad because it appears that the years of dependence on the US have made not only our people and worse, those who are supposed to be our leaders, acquire and develop a mendicant mentality.

Need one keep on reminding them that from 1991 to 1999, we had no US troops or military bases in the country. We survived without anything untoward happening to us, both in terms of economics or national security.

On the contrary, the country earned more money through the conversion of the US military bases into free trade areas and industrial zones, a lot more money than the piddling sum that the US had been paying for using the huge military bases.

Aside from acquiring a mendicant mentality, encouraged no less by previous governments, the country’s over-dependence on US largesse (not much really compared to that given to other countries that do not even host US troops and military bases, some of whom were former enemies of the US) have left us eating the dust of neighbors that were behind us not too long ago, economically, militarily and politically.

Is that reason not good enough to convince the US lackeys in our midst to free ourselves from US neo-colonial bondage?

As Digong keeps saying, it’s time to stand on our own!

VFA AND EDCA NULL AND VOID AB INITIO

While on the subject of the VFA, I can’t help feeling a sense of apprehension when Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said that the government would heed the decision of the Supreme Court on the Senate’s plan to ask the tribunal to rule on whether or not the President could terminate the VFA without its prior consent.

While I do not think the Supreme Court would rule against the President’s action, still the question lingering at the back of my head is “what if it does?”

The other question that’s bugging me is, is Digong now looking for an “out” in his decision? Does it mean he will retract his decision if the Supreme Court upholds the Senate’s contention?

That would be most unfortunate, tragic even! It would make him the laughing stock not only of his critics here, but also the entire world community. The really nasty ones might also give him the derisive moniker “Digong Urong-Sulong.”

Of course, if he really is serious about ditching the military alliance with the US, that is assuming the Supreme Court decides against his move, he can always resort to terminating both the VFA and EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) based solely on the ground that the two agreements are, in my view, null and void ab initio, for the simple reason that they violated Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution, which states:

“Section 25. After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

The last phrase of the above provision, i.e., “and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State”, is a conditio sine qua non (an indispensable condition) for the VFA and EDCA to be valid.

Neither one was recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State. The US never ratified either one, asserting that both are mere executive agreements.

EDCA AND MDT A “PIECE OF PAPER” SANS VFA

Some quarters, including senators and congressmen have expressed concern that without the VFA, EDCA and the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) would become irrelevant.

They are right! Digong’s insubordinate and disloyal foreign secretary, Teodoro “Tweeterboy” Locsin, Jr., and also Senator Panfilo Lacson, in fact said both agreements will become a mere “piece of paper” with the VFA termination.

Moreover, getting rid of the VFA and EDCA, plus the scrapping of the MDT, is actually the ultimate goal in our pursuit of an independent foreign policy as mandated by the Constitution.

Too, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that we should depend on a foreign power to protect our national security.

Incidentally, Locsin also said that without the VFA and the EDCA, the MDT will be like a “deflated balloon”.

But it IS a deflated balloon for lacking a provision for automatic retaliation against any country that attacks either one of the parties, unlike the one that governs the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

For instance, need one ask what the US did, or did not do, when China seized Scarborough/Panatag Shoal and other isles and reefs in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea over which the Philippines has sovereign rights?

If the government critics think that the US will do something to help us recover them, they have another think coming! The US should have done something before China reclaimed the seized areas and turned them into military garrisons, complete with airstrips, naval shipyards and missile silos.*

The only way the US could get rid of them now is through military action. That, however, would mean war that neither one will win.

DELA ROSA’S SELF-IMPORTANCE

The mainstream media keep harping on the silly notion purveyed by the critics of the government, that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was terminated because of the cancellation by the US of Senator Bato dela Rosa’s visa.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong has been saying all along that his decision was based on a litany of perfidious acts committed by the US against Philippine interests.

The cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa was merely “the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, as Digong has been stressing.

That being the case, Dela Rosa should stop giving too much importance to himself like saying he feels bothered because the termination of the VFA was triggered by the cancellation of his US visa. He was merely the last straw, no more, no less. He would be well-advised to just clam up.

But, of course, the continuous harping of the mainstream media on Dela Rosa’s cancelled US visa is to be expected considering that nearly all of them are owned by members of the elite, the oligarchs and sundry critics who are by definition pro-US and are, therefore, anti-Duterte. Others are even reportedly partly owned by foreigners which is against the Constitution.

There is no denying that these misguided creatures are lackeys of the US whose only interest is to preserve and protect their dominance over the Philippine economy and politics to the detriment of the hoi polloi.

Question: “Do senators and congressmen who oppose the termination of the invalid VFA and EDCA and the useless MDT support the constitutional mandate to have an independent foreign policy?

I believe it is incumbent upon them as officials of the Philippine Government to forthwith declare themselves unequivocally on the matter.#

­­­­­­­­­­­­­*(Editor’s Note) United States maintains a base Diego Garcia is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, a militarized atoll just south of the equator in the central India Ocean. In March 1971, United States Naval construction battalions (Seabees), arrived on Diego Garcia to begin the construction of the communications station and an airfield.Following the fall of the Shah of Iran and the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979–1980, the West became concerned with ensuring the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, and the United States received permission for a $400-million expansion of the military facilities on Diego Garcia consisting of two parallel 12,000-foot-long (3,700 m) runways, expansive parking aprons for heavy bombers, 20 new anchorages in the lagoon, a deep-water pier, port facilities for the largest naval vessels in the American or British fleet, aircraft hangars, maintenance buildings and an air terminal, a 1,340,000 barrels (213,000 m3) fuel storage area, and billeting and messing facilities for thousands of sailors and support personnel.

EMBASSY ROW presents insights from members of the diplomatic corps of the Philippines and other countries. Inaugurating the section is Ambassador Reynaldo O. Arcilla who served in Thailand, Laos, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Bangladesh. He was the dean of the College of International Relations of the Lyceum of the Philippines University for nearly 12 years. (iam/sovereignph.com)

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