Migrante renews calls to scrap VFA, stop Balikatan

On the 20th anniversary of the expulsion of US Bases in Angeles and Olongapo, Migrante International renewed calls for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and to stop the ongoing US-PH Balikatan exercises in Mindanao.

“Today we commemorate the historic expulsion of US Bases in Clark and Angeles but it seems our fight is far from over,” said Migrante spokesperson Connie Bragas.

Bragas said that because of the ratification of the VFA in 1999 and the ongoing Balikatan exercises, US troops have managed to “re-establish and secure their bases and facilities on Philippine soil”.

“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,” Bragas said.

She 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

She 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,” she said.

Close to where US military bases are in Asia, Bragas 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, she 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,” Bragas said. ###