A respected Filipino political analyst and a militant group have slammed the Philippine-U.S. military partnership, saying that this is a blatant infringement of the country's sovereignty and independence.
In an interview with Xinhua, Jose Cortez, a political strategist and veteran journalist, said the Philippine-U.S. joint amphibious landing exercise that would start next week in various parts of the
Philippines is another case of U.S. interventionist policy toward the . Philippines
Troops from the U.S. 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB), the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will participate in the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise, called Phiblex 2016, from Sept. 21 to Oct. 9.
Phiblex 2016 will involve some 650 U.S. servicemen based in Okinawa, Japan, and Philippine sailors and marines working side-by- side to conduct a command post exercise, field training exercises, amphibious operations, combined arms training, civil-military operations as well as humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
Cortez, who writes analytical articles in the Philippine Graphic, a local weekly newsmagazine, said allowing U.S. forces to temporarily stay in the country in the guise of joining military exercises is a travesty of Philippine territorial integrity.
He called anew for the abrogation of the Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is used as the basis for the joint military training.
According to Cortez, it is during these joint military exercises that some
servicemen committed crimes against Filipinos, citing in particular the murder
last year of a Filipino transgender by a U.S.
serviceman in Olongapo City, some 150 km north of . Manila
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton has been charged with the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer " Laude at a motel in
on Oct. 11, 2014. Olongapo
Since the death penalty has been abolished in the
the prosecution has asked for a life sentence for Pemberton. A court in Philippines could hand down its verdict anytime
soon after the prosecution and defense have wrapped up their respective
arguments. Olongapo City
"If the VFA is scrapped, the killing of Laude and several crimes against Filipino women in the past could have been prevented," Cortez said.
Earlier on Wednesday, militant groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan (New Nationalist Movement) held protest rallies at the Supreme Court and the
to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the rejection of the new Philippine-U.S.
military bases agreement. Manila
The Philippine Senate rejected the renewal of the bases agreement on Sept. 16, l991.
In a statement carried by its website, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said they were protesting against the continuing
U.S. intervention in Philippine affairs and the
plan to revive
bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). U.S.
During the protest rally, Bayan called on the Supreme Court to resolve several petitions questioning the EDCA which were filed last year. Petitioners included former senators, party-list lawmakers, activists, academics and church leaders.
Bayan assailed EDCA for allowing the
to use Philippine military facilities rent-free and tax free. United States
"EDCA should be declared unconstitutional for bringing back de facto
bases to the country without any treaty. The EDCA has not received Senate
concurrence. Majority of the current senators have expressed through a
resolution that an international agreement like the EDCA cannot be valid
without Senate concurrence, " Reyes said. U.S.
According to Reyes, the
cannot be truly
independent if it allows foreign powers to dictate on its affairs. Philippines
"We cannot be truly free if foreign troops are stationed on our shores and our domestic policy is in the service of the
imperialist agenda in the region," he said. U.S.
In the House of Representatives, several legislators have also opposed the EDCA and called for the scrapping of the VFA.
Earlier on Wednesday, youth groups led by the League of Filipino Students also held a lightning rally and threw paint at the seal of the
embassy. The police arrested some six protesters. U.S.