News / Asia

    In Philippines, Obama Visit Stirs Critics of Plan to Boost US Troops

    The women's advocacy group Gabriela is one of the lead organizers of anti-American military protests like this one in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    The women's advocacy group Gabriela is one of the lead organizers of anti-American military protests like this one in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    Simone Orendain
    A pending agreement for more American troop rotations to the Philippines continues to have strong support in the country, which is facing territorial challenges from an increasingly assertive China. But in the days leading up to President Barrack Obama’s visit to Manila, some opponents are being more vocal. 
     
    The Philippines military, business sector and local media generally have a favorable view of a proposal that would see more American military ships and planes stopping in the Philippines. But the mostly left-leaning groups who oppose it point to historical grievances.
     
    Youth militant leader Vencer Crisostomo pushes against a police shield to get closer to the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)Youth militant leader Vencer Crisostomo pushes against a police shield to get closer to the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    x
    Youth militant leader Vencer Crisostomo pushes against a police shield to get closer to the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    Youth militant leader Vencer Crisostomo pushes against a police shield to get closer to the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    Renato Reyes, Secretary General of the New Patriotic Alliance party and organizer of anti-American protests ahead of Obama’s visit, said since the late 1800’s when the U.S. colonized the Philippines, American troops have had a major presence in the country.  Reyes said historically Philippine laws have had “no teeth” when U.S. military were found to be in violation.
     
    “The pattern is that they always find a way to circumvent our laws and to place themselves above Philippine laws and in the process they practically violate our sovereignty.  So this agreement that they are going to sign brings back a lot of those old problems of when we had U.S. bases in the country,” Reyes said.
     
    American military outposts have been in the Philippines since colonial times and after World War II they were expanded.  But in 1991, the Philippine Senate moved to shut them down in response to strong domestic pressure.  Reyes says hosting the U.S. military “violated our sovereignty, left a lot of toxic waste that has not been cleaned up [even] until now and worsened prostitution.”
     
    In 1999 the country entered into a visiting forces agreement with the U.S., which has since sent regular rotations to the country’s south to train local troops in counterterrorism tactics.
     
    Philippine negotiators say under the proposed new arrangement there would be no permanent U.S. bases, in accordance with the Philippine constitution.  And the accord would not last longer than 20 years.  They also pushed for access to whatever temporary structures Americans have within Philippine outposts.
     
    Anti-American military protesters head toward the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)Anti-American military protesters head toward the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    x
    Anti-American military protesters head toward the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    Anti-American military protesters head toward the U.S. embassy in Manila ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines, April 23, 2014. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
    That has not appeased opponents. The secretary general of the women’s rights group Gabriela, Joms Salvador, said the agreement amounts to “strategic basing” for the U.S. which has set its policy sites on Asia, where China’s military continues to grow.
     
    “We are deeply concerned that this whole thing is getting the Filipino people dragged into… the military power-play that the U.S. is doing and it’s also inviting the danger of war to our people,” Salvador explained.
     
    The Philippines, which is perceived by many to be militarily weak, is in a heated territorial row with China about a number of small islets in the resource-rich South China Sea.  And there is some strong support for having the U.S. around to counter China’s stepped up assertion of its claim to nearly the entire sea.  Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the region.
     
    Management Association of the Philippines Vice President Rafael Alunan said in recent years China has kept the Philippines out of three economically vital shoals and reefs that are within the country's 370 kilometer exclusive economic zone.
     
    “I personally welcome that new security pact because it will help our country protect its honor, territory and resources as we strive to build up our national defense in the face of the clear and present danger that China has been posing to the region,” said Alunan.
     
    Manila-based political analyst Ramon Casiple said the usual voices that speak out against U.S.-Philippines military ties do have the support of the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who wants to review the agreement.
     
    “There are serious arguments there like the nationalist argument, the prostitution problem, the usual impact, basically, on internal politics here.  But I don’t think they are of a proportion that can threaten the agreement itself,” stated Casiple.
     
    The agreement, which will not need Congressional approval, is expected to be signed during Obama’s visit next week.  Renato Reyes said once the details are made public, opponents plan to file a petition against it with the Supreme Court.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Katina Cooper from: Santa Barbara, Ca
    April 28, 2014 9:55 AM
    Haven't we spent enough billions on overseas bases? How many more billions will we spend rebuilding the Philippines bases for American troops? Maybe we should spend those billions rebuilding our roads and bridges first, and feeding the school children in this country.

    by: Ian from: USA
    April 27, 2014 1:27 PM
    I have a suggestion:
    The Philippines government could arm these communist string puppets and ship them out to the Scarborough shoal .
    There, they could demonstrate once and for all whether they will defend the sovereignty of Philippines or they will turncoat and joint their communist Chinese master .

    by: Bill
    April 27, 2014 7:47 AM
    Toxic waste? Have you ever looked into "any" of the waterways surrounding Manila? Now that's pollution!!

    by: pinoybrit from: UK
    April 26, 2014 5:22 PM
    Pinoys are genetically closer to the Chinese vs Americans. Perhaps his excellency President Aquino have forgotten who facilitated his father's death?
    How gullible ang Pinoy! The US bases brought a lot ofdiseases in the land! For those who are totally blinded by American propaganda wake up!
    In Response

    by: John Philip from: US, CA
    May 09, 2014 1:05 AM
    That is one fallacy .. to assume that all Filipinos are genetically closer to chinese..

    What about the mestizos that grew up in the Philippines? Natives living the barrio?

    U.S. bases bring economic development and US$ to the area where they are located.

    Drop the pride - ur probably one of those filipinos that is not even from Subic, Zambales, Clark etc - because if you were - you would be partying and rejoicing on the streets because work is back in the city..
    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    April 27, 2014 1:45 PM
    The Filipinos are not genetically related to the Han Chinese at all. They are Austronesian group (which includes the non Han Taiwanese aborigines)
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    April 26, 2014 5:49 PM
    Were it not the Americans that liberated us from the imperial powers at be (Spanish) during the late 1800's? Were it not the Americans that brought us a standardized educational system? Were it not the Americans that taught us English? Which to this day puts us ahead of our other Asiatic neighbors because it makes us more marketable than them. The Spanish could have cared less because to them the Filipino people were just slaves to work their fields in the haciendas and tools to curb the sexual needs of their friars. The Chinese DONT care about the well being of the Filipino people because they only care about the enrichment of their nation and encroachment on other countries (i.e. Japan, Taiwan, Korea,Vietnam and the PHILIPPINES to name a few) territories proves that they DONT care about the sovereignty of others. Please do some research and you will quickly find out that the Americans only had our best interest in mind.

    by: jwillwon3 from: usa
    April 26, 2014 9:19 AM
    you can`t please everyone, but those opposing people should remember, who gave them their independence, who pushed the Japanese away, do they want China to move in and rule? who is the first to come to the Filipino aid when any problems occur? Give a little Love back to all the Love given to the Philippines from the US and go put flowers on the Graves of my forefathers who are buried on your soil !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    In Response

    by: Ben from: USA
    April 27, 2014 2:17 AM
    Superunamused,
    What you said about the Constitution of the Phillippines isn't entirely true. Foreign troops are forbidden unless a treaty is approved by the Philippine Congress, which is the path that America is pursuing.

    Here is a quote from Article XVIII, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution:

    "...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."
    In Response

    by: superunamused from: Manila Philippines
    April 26, 2014 2:05 PM
    As an expat living in manila I've sensed no hatred towards Americans.

    To educate yourself, they are against troops of ANY nation on their soil. Their constitution forbids it.

    So... if something violates the USA constitution, does that not make you angry?

    They are very grateful for our help with the Japanese. But they are not grateful for violations to their constitution. Think of it as a neighbor, who saved your daughter from getting hit by a car, but later that day came over and burned down your garage. You're very grateful that they saved your daughters life... but srsly? Why you breaking mah Shiitee?

    by: jc from: Antique
    April 26, 2014 4:46 AM
    They are all stupid communists! God Bless The Philippines and the United states!

    by: hansarang from: davao
    April 25, 2014 7:55 PM
    This groupof people should also rally against China to be fair, talking about imperialism, how about Chinese in the Philippines? Go and get information from the laborers. How much are their wages? Are they in the minimum pay? Many of our laborers are exploited. When China exceed their claim of their territory to Scarb. SL....what is the reaction of these groups? If our government can't stop this group, the conflict of Ukraine will also happen to us.

    by: Juanito from: Manila, Philippines
    April 25, 2014 1:37 PM
    I would like to say, that this group of people does not represent the majority sentiment of Filipinos. They are, in fact, a minority. These leftist (communist) group is tied to the New People's Army, the armed rebel group of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which is funded by China. Please ignore them! 85% of Filipinos love Americans and very much welcome their presence in our country. We will never forget the help the US has given us after typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas region.
    In Response

    by: John Philip from: US, CA
    May 09, 2014 1:08 AM
    Juanito -

    Those are the people that cause the traffic in EDSA - in the picture they look like alot but in truth less that 10 people - max 20..

    Drivers esp. going through the area of embassy normally honk and curse at them for being a nuisance..

    But its not their fault..the one to blame is THE REPORTER and PHOTOGRAPHER - publishing news not worth mentioning because there probably was not a murder or a Headline incident that occured that day
    In Response

    by: Dennis from: Manila
    April 25, 2014 7:25 PM
    These leftist groups are minority...and quite annoying!!! Please place into this perspective: according to the local news, there were only 50~100 protesters. Manila has 10 Million people, the whole Phil is ~100 Million. But in the international news, they appear to be significant. They even caused unnecessary traffic during their activity which also invited backlash from a lot of motorists.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora