Return to Sender: 5 Reasons to Oppose US Military Intervention in the Philippines
1. It violates the national sovereignty of the Philippines
The arrival of US forces invariably involves some form of military intervention including outright aggression, occupation and colonization. It would be like people storming into your house, moving their equipment into your bedroom, throwing out your stuff, ordering you to cook and clean for them, beating up your children and spouse, and informing you that you’d be responsible for continuing to pay rent as well as supplying them with meals and entertainment in return for protecting your home.
2. The American people pay without a say
The American people never agreed to send US troops to the Philippines. The current round of military exercises and deployment of US troops to the Philippines takes place under the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement—a treaty that was never ratified by the US Senate, has no implementing law and is not self-executing, but has been in effect since 1999. And it costs American taxpayers millions of dollars every year without any agreement or oversight by the Senate—or the American people.
3. Civilian deaths, displacement of thousands of families, and other human rights violations will increase Even before US troops arrive, the US and Philippine military prepare miles of land for military exercises by conducting “clearing operations”— shorthand for kicking thousands of families out of their homes and even taking over schools to house US troops. Once the troops land, conditions get worse. US servicemen have fired on civilians, including children in the area whom soldiers “mistook” for wild pigs. The joint exercises between US and Philippine troops and use of US advisors to the Philippine military becomes even more questionable when you consider the Philippine military’s human rights record: 1,280 murders, 215
abductions, and 1,150 acts of torture against innocent civilians since 2001. If the Philippine military is perpetrating these atrocities, what are the US troops and advisors doing with them?
4. It is linked to increased prostitution, rape, and other sexual offenses, particularly against women and children Around US bases and military encampments, the development of an “entertainment” and “service” industry leads to a rise in the number of sex workers who are exposed to sexually transmitted disease and abuse US servicemen. Young girls have been subjected to rape. And it’s no wonder: A Marine Corps Times article published on April 8, 2012 said that “the Philippines also are known for their raunchy party atmosphere! Places such as Olongapo and Angeles City feature notorious red-light districts where alcohol and scantily clad women have attracted many Marines and sailors over the years!That’s what WestPac is: a lot of fun, a lot of good partying and a lot to do.” The Philippines is left to deal with the social costs from the rising sex trade and incidents of rape—with the perpetrators allowed to go free.
5. The military’s toxic waste pollutes the environment for decades and leads to deadly diseases Environmental damage due to military activities devastates communities for generations. Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, through the conduct of numerous studies and investigations, is known to have toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that were left in corroding power transformers after 1991. In Subic, Filipino workers at the former base were forced to handle toxic waste, including burying it, and swimming through sewage to unclog pipes. Subsequent deaths of these workers and children near the area have called attention to the effects of these wastes. A recent study by KALIKASAN-People’s Network for the Environment revealed that 800 out of 4,000 residents near Subic Base are afflicted with asbestosis. Today, residents return to their villages after the military leave and find live ammunition, used shells and casings, and land laid to waste that used to be used for farming.
In the short-term and in the long-run, US militarization in the Philippines benefits no one— American or Filipino.