Aug 132013


A Filipino activist holds a slogan during a rally outside Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. The group is protesting against a proposed increase in U.S. military presence in the Philippines to help the country defend its territorial waters amid a conflict with China in the South China Sea. AP

MANILA, Philippines – Militants led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan protested Tuesday the upcoming negotiations for greater access of US troops in the Philippines during a rally staged in front of Camp Aguinaldo.

“The biggest lie being peddled now by the Aquino government is the one that says the US will help us in the territorial dispute against China. While there is a need to stand up to China’s aggressive and assertive behavior, the US will not really help us. The US will not go head to head with China nor is it under any obligation to take our side in any territorial dispute. The US has many economic interests in China. The US is merely exploiting the dispute,”  Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said.

Talks between the Philippines and United States on the increased rotational presence of American forces in the country will start Wednesday at Department of National Defense headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.

This move is seen as a restraint to China’s expanding military might and its aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China and Philippines have been locked in a territorial row over West Philippine Sea.

“We’ve had US bases for nearly half a century yet our armed forces still did not modernize. We have a VFA with the US since 1999, as well as several annual military exercises with the US and yet during that period, our armed forces still did not develop. The US does not intend to modernize the AFP because it wants to keep the Philippines dependent on US “aid”. The more we depend on the US, the more likely we’ll be stuck in a state of perpetual backwardness,” Reyes said.

Some 20-30 militants protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo Gate 2 facing Edsa flyover.

Reyes also scored the Philippine government’s “vague” statements about the framework agreement.

“The answers given so far are very vague. The details have not been given. We do not know the exact duration, the size and the scope of US forces entering our country. They could be here for an unlimited period, they could have unlimited access. They could be stationed indefinitely and could engage in in whatever kinds of activities,” he said.

Related story:

Talks begin on bigger US access

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