The news of the death-slay of Jennifer Laude by an American soldier in Olongapo caused a lively discussion at the neighborhood Eatery the other day. My good neighbor friends threw random thought-provoking questions arising from their curiosity about the whys and wherefores of the incident. It was a welcome circumstance. The discussion touched on the significant questions about the lopsided agreements between our Government and the USA.   The discussion went this way –

LITO:          Bay, nganong murag nagpanuko man atong gobyerno nga idemand ang; kostodiya sa Amerkanong killer? Murag nabayot man ang atong mga tag-as nga opisyal labina si Presidente Noynoy ug dili makagukod sa kriminal nga gitagoan sa mga otoridad nga Amerikano sa ilang barko?

[Bai, why is our government seem timid in demanding the custody of the American killer ? Our high officials especially President Noynoy seem   helpless in running after the criminal kept by the Anmerican authorities in their seacraft?]

RENREN:   Bitaw! Unta gipangusgan na sa atong gobyerno para sa hustisya sa biktima?

[That’s right! Our government should have exercised ample pressure for the sake of justice to the victim?]

CAROL: Natingala sab ko nganong naukay ang daghang sektor aning kasoha nga tinuyoan man sad to sa anang bayhana nga nakigluon adtong Amerikano didto sa motel?

[I was also surprised why this case has aroused the ire of many sectors in our society when it was this girl who was willing to tryst with the American in the motel?]

WILLIE:   Nahibawo ka Carol, kana man gong gitawag og R&RRest & Recreation—nga gitagana para sa mga sudalong Amerikano mao nay nakaingon ana. Kay kon asa gani tong mga tropa modunggo, adto sad nang mga kalingawan!

[You know Carol, the real culprit there is the so called “R&R—Rest & Recreation—extended to the American troops, because wherever the American troops are stationed, there the entertainment joints converge!]

WILLIE:  Pero,akong tan-aw diha ana, kanang mga protesta sa atong mga kababayang nagpakabana ug mga militante dili lang na maoy gitumong ang krimen nga nahitabo batok anang Jennifer Laude. Murag gikonek nila na anang mga agreements tali sa atong gobyerno ug sa gobyerno saAmerika.

[The way I look at it, these protests by our concerned citizens and the militant sectors are not only zeroed in on the crime committed against Jennifer Laude. They link it to the agreements between our government and the government of America.]

CAROL: Kana lagi dawng— unsa na — VFA? [Yes, it’s the so called—what’s that – VFA?]

LITO:          Dili lang kana ra! Naa pay usa – kanang giingon nilang EDCA. Bay Don, unsa ba nang mga hayopa nang ilang gikasuk-an og maayo? Kananag VFA ug EDCA?

[Not only that! There’s another one—the one they call EDCA!   Bay Don, what are these animals they are so angry about? These VFA and EDCA?]

Certainly, all those occurrences are interconnected. The indignation rallies and all other protest actions are really directed against these very lopsided agreements between the Philippine and US governments.   These so called VFA or Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA.

If you recall, the US Military Bases in Clark and Subic were long ago scrapped or abrogated by the courageous stand of our nationalist Senators led by Senator Jovito Salonga way back during the time of the late President Cory Aquino. That was a heroic action, and it relieved our nation from an anomalous situation. It was like a painful thorn was pulled out from our breast as a nation.

The presence of foreign military bases on our lands is a deplorable violation of our sovereignty. Why? The Philippine government cannot impose its laws over the territories occupied by these military bases! They enjoy exemption from the operative arms of our laws.   In other words, our government has no jurisdiction over the occupied territory of the foreign troops. And so, during the entire period that those US Bases were here, many outrageous crimes happened.

For example, a Filipino was shot dead around the military facility because he was mistaken for a baboy ihalas (wild pig). There was also the case of a Filipino worker who was employed in the US facility for several years, but one day he was terminated from his employment just like that . And our Supreme Court ruled against his demand for reinstatement in accordance with the mandate of the US Military Bases Agreement.

Another more scandalous case was the raping of a Filipina girl Nicole by an American soldier. By some manipulative action, he was carted away by the American authorities to his homeland and our government could not run after the criminal.

The US Military Bases, after that historic action of the Senators fondly called the Magnificent 12,   had been removed from our soil. But years later, a very big “but” grew out of a still extant agreement called the Mutual Defense Treaty which allowed the forging of new agreements purportedly for mutual security reasons. And so, the so called Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA.

Under; this new military accord American troops are again given privilege to “visit” and station in our lands, and this provides rationale for the Balikatan Exercises being launched every now and then in our country purportedly to enhance the combat capabilities of our armed forces.

It seems the “romantic ties” between the Philippines and the US are bound to last forevermore. But this is a kind of romance that works to the detriment of our country. It is actually allowing basing right s to American troops on our soil with practically similar privileges they enjoyed during the period of existence of the defunct US Military Bases at Subic and Clark . Under the pretext that these incidences of the Balikatan Exercises are not permanent but only intermittent occurrences, the sacred sovereign authority of our Government over their facilities and persons is effectively curtailed.

And as if the VFA is not enough, President Noynoy Aquino had the temerity to still clip the wings of our country’s sovereign rights by way of an executive agreement called Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA which he signed together with President Barack Obama a few months back. This particular agreement is worse than the permanent military bases our country ever had.   Under this EDCA, the whole country practically becomes a US Military base because they can hjold any Philippine military camp in any region and island in the archipelago at their use and disposal anytime they want. And, of course, with accompanying immunity from Philippines laws within their occupied facility.

The VFA and the EDCA are new thorns thrust into the heart of our national sovereignty, and the pains now experienced by the Filipino nation find its new paroxysms in the case of the murder of Jennifer Laude. The core issue broadcast by the voices of the protest actions is nothing less than the shameful surrender of our sovereign rights over the facilities and persons of the American military forces now stationed in our lands and seas under these highly anomalous agreements. The Philippine chief executives responsible for the existence of these agreements must be in the height of their stupidity.

And so, the big question is: Can we get Laude’s killer(s) into the custody of our judicial apparatus—our courts, our penal system?

The nation awaits the clearing of the consciences of our national leadership, chiefly President Noynoy Aquino, who has consigned our country’s destiny into the mercy of the militarist geniuses of America.

comments powered by Disqus