"This is a good opportunity for President Duterte."
The Balangiga bells are back, returned after 117 years in the hands of imperialist and colonialist United State of America. They were taken as war booty smeared with the blood of tens of thousands of Filipino men, women and children, in one episode most symbolic of the brutality of American invasion and occupation of the country.
And now, to complete the sovereignty, there’s one more thing left to do—to terminate the not-so-mutual Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Section 25 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution is clear, “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United
States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
Effectively, the 1987 Constitution, ratified in a nationwide plebiscite on Feb. 8, 1987, put an end to military cooperation under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, a treaty which ensured that the Philippines continues to be a neo-colony of the US even after being granted a bogus independence in 1946.
In fact, the MDT was not the only act the US forced the Philippines to swallow to maintain its hegemony over the country beyond the so-called grant of independence.
The 1946 Bell Trade Act, formally Philippine Trade Act of 1946, tied war damage claims to free trade conditions and equal economic rights for the US and its citizens.
The 1947 Military Bases Agreement granted the US the right to retain the use of its military bases in the Philippines for 99 years (but which was later reduced by the late President Ferdinand Marcos).
The imperialist and neo-colonial designs of the US on the Philippines is best illustrated by the book of the late Filipino nationalist-industrialist Salvador Araneta written in his book “America’s Double-Cross of the Philippines.”
“The indifferent economic development of the country…was due to America’s policy toward Japan and the Philippines. This policy was the result of the Dodds Report, which Truman accepted and which had as its objective to make Japan the industrial workshop of Asia and the Philippines a mere supplier of raw materials,” Araneta wrote.
The Philippine economy continued its dependency on the US while successive Philippine presidents attempted various degrees of industrialization initiatives while cutting back U.S. neocolonial influence, culminating in Marcos’ 11 Industrial Projects and reduction of the US military bases term, both leading to his ouster with U.S. assistance in 1986 and Clark Air Base used to hijack the president.
However, the 1986 Edsa Uprising restored neo-colonial elitism under Corazon Aquino and almost succeeded in reversing the end of the U.S. Bases Agreement in 1991 but for 12 Senate votes affirming Marcos’ reduction of the lease.
And yet, in violation of the 1987 Constitution, the Philippine government signed a Visiting Forces Agreement in 1998 which became the basis for EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) U.S. military basing within Philippine military bases.
In January of 2016 the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, echoing the persuasion of 14 other senators reminded one and all that “When the Supreme Court held in the 2009 case of Nicolas v. Romulo that the VFA is constitutional, no less than then Chief Justice Puno dissented, telling his colleagues, ‘This slur on our sovereignty cannot continue, especially if we are the ones perpetuating it.’ Those words resonate today, with the Supreme Court decision on the EDCA,..”
A most welcome news came when late last December 2018 Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana raised the possibility of scrapping the 1951 MDT between the Philippines and the United States, as he ordered a review of the pact to see if it is still relevant to the country’s national interest at this point in its history.
Lorenzana was quoted by various newspapers saying, “That was done in 1951, there was this raging Cold War. Do we still have a Cold War today? Is it still relevant to our security. Maybe not anymore?”
While the secretary is seen by some quarters as a pro-American element in President Duterte’s cabinet, others see a more balanced and objective professional retired Filipino officer in him.
The initiative for the review of the MDT is said to be purely the defense secretary’s, though no one can really say if it was not directly inspired by President Rodrigo Duterte, as the President has indeed taken sufficiently convincing steps such as the return of the Balangiga bells to convince anyone, not the least the defense secretary, that such a review of the MDT will be in line with the President’s persuasion.
A reopening for review of the MDT today will likely result in the conclusion that the reasons for such a treaty no longer exists and the recommendation to the President will be that it be scrapped.
Hence, it is a good opportunity to give Duterte the opening for a formal abrogation of the MDT and announcement of the end of the EDCA.