As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Manila today, Migrante International renewed calls for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and to stop the ongoing US-PH Balikatan exercises.
Clinton is in Manila for the observance of the 60th anniversary of the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty and to attend an inaugural ceremony of the Partnership for Growth with the Philippines.
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said that there is “no mutual respect” between the Philippines and the US. “Because of the ratification of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) in 1999 and the ongoing Balikatan exercises, US troops have managed to re-establish and secure their bases and facilities on Philippine soil, and exploit our national sovereignty with free reign,” he said.
“The term ‘visiting’ is a misnomer. Since 2002, US troops have permanently set their bases on Philippine soil. Moreover, the VFA has no time limits, no sanctions and no restrictions. Unlike previous US-PH treaties, VFA is forever,” Martinez said.
He said that Migrante is opposed to US military deployment in the Philippines because it will only “serve the geo-political and military interests of the US, particularly in Southeast Asia.”
Prostitution and sex trafficking
Martinez added that the presence of US troops in the Philippines has had “disastrous effects” on the Filipino people, especially women.
“Whenever there are US troops, prostitution thrives. For Filipino women, there is a direct link between heightened US military presence and prostitution and sex-trafficking. Even overseas, we know that Filipino women are being sex-trafficked into South Korea and Japan for US troops stationed there,” he said.
Close to where US military bases are in Asia, he said, there are around 3,000 Filipino women being prostituted in entertainment bars. “In these clubs, women are working in degrading environments and are victimized by prostitution.”
Filipino migrant workers are recruited and sent to countries where there are US bases to become sex workers, he said. A survey by the Saewoomtuh or Sprouting Land Center for Prostituted Women in Seoul showed that almost 85 percent of all entertainers in the country are Filipinas.
“Historically, our experience with US troops has proved that Filipino women are used as their ‘comfort women’. We have witnessed this in South Korea. Even now in Mindanao there are reports of Filipino women being trafficked into areas where the US troops are stationed,” Martinez said.
Migrante International will join protest actions led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) during Clinton’s visit. ###