REP. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna yesterday called on President Duterte to pursue his promised independent foreign policy, especially of ending the continued presence of American troops in the country.
He issued this even as some 2,600 American soldiers are in the Philippines to join the Balikatan 2017 exercises with 2,800 of their Filipino counterparts.
“Last year, the President previously said that he already wanted this annual activity scrapped when he threatened to cut ties with the United States and there is a high expectation among our people for the fulfillment of the said promise,” Zarate said.
He said Duterte should not listen to the militarists in his Cabinet who are all schooled in pro-US policies even if they are detrimental to our sovereignty and our people.
“We must learn to love and defend our country and not rely on foreign countries like the US or China who are only looking out for their interests. We must stand up on our own feet and emulate the likes of Lapu-lapu and Andres Bonifacio who fought against foreign invaders,” he said.
Bayan also released a statement on the Balikatan exercises.
The full text:
“The shift from maritime exercises to humanitarian assistance and disaster response does not make the current iteration of the Balikatan exercises any less violative of our sovereignty. Neither does it make the current Balikatan exercises any less in the service of US imperialist agenda in the region.
“In allowing the war games to proceed, Duterte is bending backwards to accede to the demands of the pro-US sections of the Philippine military. Duterte remains concerned with the support of the AFP. The Balikatan runs counter to Duterte’s vow to uphold an independent foreign policy. It falls right into the US agenda of projecting its military power in the region.
“The war games must be seen in the context of US regional dominance, which also run counter to Philippine interests. The US wants to drag us into regional conflicts not of our choosing. The US conflict with China and North Korea are expected to intensify. The US seeks interoperability between their armed forces and ours so that they can involve the AFP in US-instigated conflicts.
“The claim that the US also wants the assist in counter-terrorism also lays the basis for increased US intervention in Philippine domestic affairs.
“We worry that the situation regarding US intervention will worsen after Trump’s visit in November.”