On Independence Day, groups assert sovereignty vs EDCA

Jun. 15, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – On the 125th anniversary of the Philippine independence, progressive groups here raise sovereignty issues as the Marcos administration shifts back the government’s alliance from China to the United States.

During their rally at Freedom Park on Monday, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Anakbayan Davao chapters point out that the entry of four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA) sites might push more human rights violations.

The Philippine government ties up with the US by allowing four new EDCA sites announced in early April on top of the five (5) already existing ones, a strategic move to ensure the strong presence of US troops and war materials in the Pacific region, says Beverly Godofredo, spokesperson of Anakbayan Southern Mindanao.

“Ang effect niini syempre ang paglapastangan sa atoang mga isla nga gamiton sa VFA-EDCA ug syempre ang daghan na mutumaw nga human rights violation,” Godofredo in an interview. (This in effect will exploit our islands under VFA-EDCA, and of course more human rights violations)

She said “it is possible history will repeat itself” with human rights violations as she recalls the infamous death of transwoman Jennifer Laude in the hands of an American serviceman in Olongapo City last 2014.

In Mindanao alone, Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization has recorded several alleged human rights violations perpetrated by US soldiers embedded in combat operations in Mindanao in the context of military operations against the members of the Abu Sayyaf group since 2002.

Some of these cases are the deaths of Arsid Baharun who was shot dead by US soldiers in 2004 while they were conducting marksmanship practice in Zamboanga City and Gregan Cardeño, an interpreter hired by a private contractor but was found dead in 2010 inside the barracks of the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade at Camp Ranao, Brgy. Datu Saber in Marawi City.

As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shifted alliance to the US, away from his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s ties with China, the groups press on an independent policy to assert the country’s ownership of the West Philippine Sea over the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and show strong protection to Filipino fishermen on the disputed waters.

Kadamay coordinator Rauf Sissay said the bullying in the West Philippine Sea has been the biggest challenge for Filipino fishermen since the Aquino and Duterte administrations in the past 13 years and continues under Marcos’ ties with the US military.

“Karon sa bag-ong administrasyon ni Bongbong Marcos, wala gihapon kitay nakita nga mahinungdanong kausaban sa hisgutanang independent foreign policy,” Sissay said. (There is still no substantial change in the government’s independent foreign policty under Marcos.) (davaotoday.com)

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