Sunday, May 4, 2014

Andriano - Reaction Paper: People’s Forum on US Militarism and its Impacts on the Philippine Environment (1)

Andriano, Lattice Angelique A.
Reaction paper on People’s Forum on US Militarism and its Impacts on the Philippine Environment

After several years of debates, the US military base in Subic was finally closed in 1992. Now, as if history is repeating itself, US troops are back as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was passed last Monday, 28 April 2014.
                  I admit that EDCA has its strong points and will benefit our military if the goals are met. However, compared to US we are at the losing end. A reason would be the risk it poses to our environment which was the main concern at the forum. Dr. Giovanni Tapang, a professor in the University and the chairperson of the organization Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan, stressed that the US military used the Subic waters as a toxic waste dump during their occupation before and at the same time harming the health of the residents near the base. He is concerned of what would happened if another ‘’accident’’ happened in our seas like when the USS Guardian destroyed at least 1000 square meters of coral reefs at the World Heritage Site Tubbataha reef. Should the Philippines just ask for compensation again? But the US Navy has not paid—not even a cent after more than a year!
Despite only making it to Dr. Tapang’s talk, I understood why environmental advocates are strongly against US occupation again because, although there is an environmental provision under the EDCA, there is no guarantee that it will be strictly carried out like the situation at Tubbataha. US troops can get away from harming our environment again.
After hearing the forum and doing some research, I know that I’m against the agreement as well. First is because of the issue on the environment that was discussed. Having the US military exercises in the country will increase our toxic waste. Second, it violates the constitution. From the news, I learned that the Senate was not given the chance to let their voices out on this matter where in fact their approval is needed for any treaty to be passed. Third, this agreement mimics the situation before. They say that the important feature of the agreement is that the US military are not allowed to construct new bases in the country because they can only use existing AFP bases. However, they can still construct infrastructures inside the bases! Another is the upgrade and construction of two naval bases in Palawan which started late last year. Concerned officials said it is part of AFP’s modernization program but I think this is for the US military. A similar situation is happening in South Korea where their government is constructing a military base in Jeju Island for the US military which Dr. Tapang also mentioned in his talk. This “important feature” is just going around the law that the US military can never build a base in the Philippines again.
I’m all for our country’s advancement but not through this agreement where there are many loopholes. I still believe that things will work out for US and the Philippines if only a true compromise is reached that’s favourable for both countries.

Ayee, M. (2014, April 28). Miriam: PH-US deal unfair surprise on Senate. Rappler.
Depasupil, W. (2014, March 6). DND to develop second naval facility in Palawan. The Manila Times.
Dulce, L. (2014, April 24). Obama's visit and the 'toxic' legacy of US bases. Rappler.
Sabillo, K. (2012, April 30). 5 things you need to know about EDCA. Inquirer.

No comments:

Post a Comment