Continue the Spirit of Resistance! – BAYAN-USA

June 12, 2024

This Philippine Independence Day, BAYAN USA celebrates the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, who have been fighting to be free for centuries. This spirit rages on today, as the Filipino people cry out for freedom from the shackles of US imperialism and the Philippine ruling class. BAYAN USA amplifies the cry of the people: US OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! DEFEND PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY!

The question of Philippine independence has been a hot-button issue. China’s growing aggression in the West Philippine Sea has trampled upon the country’s sovereign and economic rights. This is a notable shift from the otherwise long history of peaceful coexistence between the two countries. Yet as questionable claims about Chinese “spies” infiltrating the Philippines begin to spread, another foreign power’s much more public operations across the country are going unchecked: the United States. 

Under President Bongbong Marcos, relations with the United States have once again warmed, giving the picture of a so-called “ironclad alliance” between the two countries. But a look at the history between the two countries paints a very different picture. This year marks marks 125 years since the outbreak of the Philippine-American War, which left hundreds of thousands of Filipinos murdered at the hands of US troops. It marks 25 years of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and 10 years of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). These are agreements that circumvented the historic Philippine Senate ruling of 1991 that banned US bases on Philippine soil after mass protests demanded their closing.

The military build up resulting from these agreements is growing at a dizzying pace. Last year, the Marcos administration identified four more EDCA sites for the US military to operate from, bringing the total to nine publicly known EDCA bases.  Just this May, the US and the Philippines held the largest ever Balikatan military exercises, one of over 500 planned exercises to be conducted this year alone. And while the Biden administration seeks an additional $128 million in EDCA funding and another $100 million for foreign military financing to the Philippines for 2025, Marcos announced his plans to spend $35 billion over the next 10 years in defense upgrades. The Philippine Enhanced Resilience Act (PERA) bill, being floated in the US Senate right now could contribute $2.5 billion over the next five years to that goal.

The outlines of a US-China conflict are clearer than ever. But even more alarming than China’s aggression in Philippine waters is the United States’ use of the entire archipelago and its seas as a launching pad of war.

And even without a hot war, those situated around EDCA sites or military exercise grounds — like impoverished fisherfolk, internally displaced Indigenous peoples, workers who depend on contractual jobs in bases-turned-special economic zones — are already being shunned of their basic right to livelihood; to know who and what is present or being stored on their lands; and to feel safe within their own homes.

BAYAN USA will continue to campaign against the impacts of US militarism in the Philippines and around the world. Our members are in the midst of planning people’s summits and mobilizations against the Rim of the Pacific Games this June 29-30 in San Diego, and against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Washington DC this coming July 6-7. We will be bringing the stories and demands of the Filipino people for an independent foreign policy to the doorstep of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions up until the US Elections this November. We will be campaigning to reject the PERA bill in the US Senate, and pass the Philippine Human Rights Act in the US House to sever security aid to the Philippine government until it can assure human rights are upheld. And we will be mounting our own People’s State of the Nation Address to counter the fairytale image of the Philippines that Marcos is sure to deliver this July.

BAYAN USA demands answers and accountability from the Philippine and US government on the impacts of militarism on the most marginalized. We demand answers on the real extent of US base and facility building in the country, as what is being publicized in the news does not match the Filipino people’s experiences on the ground.

This Independence Day, we call on the Filipino people across the US to take up the spirit of resistance and continue the fight for national freedom and genuine democracy, so that we may be free to stand up on our own two feet and determine for ourselves the course of our future, without any foreign power leading us astray. 

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