Posted by Stephen Lendman Posted on 12 February 2020

Will President Rodrigo Duterte End US Occupation of the Philippines?

Throughout the post-WW II era, the US sought unchallenged control over Asian nations, their resources and populations — what Obama’s 2011 Asia pivot was and remains all about.

It involves advancing Washington’s military footprint in a part of the world not its own, aiming to contain, weaken and isolate China and North Korea, wanting Russia checked at the same time in East Asia and Europe.

Washington’s global empire of bases is key to advancing its imperium — parts of it used as platforms for endless wars against nations threatening no one.

Yet there’s little or no coverage of what costs US taxpayers trillions of dollars in the post-WW II era.

Nor has there been any explanation of why these bases exist and grow in numbers at a time when America’s only enemies are invented — no real anywhere since WW II ended nearly 75 years ago.

They’re all about feeding the military, industrial, security, media complex that includes Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Big Oil, and other US corporate interests.

US pursuit of Asian dominance began in the late 19th century, notably with the invasion of the Philippines.

In 1900, Mark Twain denounced US imperial conquest of the country, saying “I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines.” 

“We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”

“We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields, burned their villages, turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors, (and) subjugated the remaining ten million by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket…”

He proposed a new US flag “with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.” 

He denounced General Jacob Smith’s order to “kill and burn…the more the better,” he said, “all above the age of 10,” adding: 

“(T)urn (the Philippines into) a howling wilderness.”

General Douglas MacArthur didn’t liberate the country in October 1944. He retook it from near-defeated imperial Japan for the US to control and exploit.

James Petras earlier explained that especially throughout the post-WW II era, “Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia,” adding: 

“Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class.”

Since elected president of the country in 2016, Rodrido Duterte’s relationship with the US has been uneasy at best.

Calling Obama a “son-of-a-bitch” in September that year, he warned the US president not to criticize or interfere with his extrajudicial killings to eliminate drug kingpins and dealers.

At the same time, he called for removing US forces from Jolo and Basilan islands, saying “they have to go.”

On the pretext of training and advising government forces, Pentagon troops occupy the Philippines and numerous other nations, a hostile force wherever based.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign military bases on its territory — Article XVIII, Section 25 stating:

“(F)oreign 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.”

In 1991, US forces were withdrawn from Clark Air Base. Subic Bay withdrawal in late 1992 followed. 

Under a longstanding Mutual Defense Treaty, both nations agreed to defend each other against armed attack, Washington controlling things, treating the Philippines like a colony.

According to the Military Times, the Pentagon currently maintains army, navy, marine, and airbases in the Philippines today — near Manilla, and on Luzon, Mindanao, Palawan, and Mactan Islands.

On Friday, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte is “terminating” the so-called 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, stressing he’s “not changing his decision.”

The agreement permits US forces on Philippine territory for joint military exercises and so-called defense cooperation — despite no regional treats faced by either country.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro (Teddy) Locsin will inform the Trump regime of Duterte’s decision ahead.

He “has the constitutional power and authority to abrogate any treaty for any reason especially an insult to our sovereignty,” he explained.

On January 23, Duterte said he’d end the VFA with the US unless the Trump regime’s revoked visa of former national police chief involved in his war on drugs/current Senator Ronald dela Rosa is reinstated. 

He also declared his intention to develop closer ties to China and Russia, saying “I want to open new fronts with (these countries) as the US lived off the fat of our land” much too long.

Last September, he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, seeking greater bilateral economic cooperation, including joint development of offshore oil and gas resources in the South China Sea, waters claimed by both countries and other East Asia ones.

Throughout most of the post-WW II era, the US maintained a military presence in the Philippines.

Will the VFA end under Duterte (what he called “that son-of-a-bitch) or is he using the threat as a bargaining chip for what he wants from the US?

It’s unclear what effect cancelling the VFA would have on other military agreements between both countries.

They include an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and a Mutual Defense Treaty.

Will Duterte order US troops out of the Philippines entirely, partially, or not at all?

According to Lorenzana, the VFA is “more beneficial” to the country “compared to any benefits” gotten from ending it, adding:

“Our contribution to regional defense is anchored in our military alliance with the” US.

China and Russia are valued allies, seeking cooperative relations with other nations, at war with none.

Their geopolitical agendas are polar opposite how the US operates, seeking dominance over other countries — by brute forces if other methods fail.

The VFA can be terminated by written notice, both nations having the same option. If initiated, it’s effective in 180 days. 

Last December, Duterte banned US Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin from visiting the Philippines over their support for US legislation that blocks entry into the US of Philippine officials involved in the detention of Philippine Senator Leila De Lima, a critic of Duterte’s war on drugs.

Barring cabinet ministers from visiting the US, he also declined an invitation to meet with Trump at the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) meeting in March.

Earlier he blamed Washington’s military presence for inflaming Muslim population tensions. (A)s long as we stay with America, we will never have peace,” he said, adding he’s reorienting the country’s foreign policy.

If he holds firm on terminating the VFA, will Pentagon occupation of the Philippines end ahead while he’s president?

Or is he bluffing, intending little or no changes in the bilateral relationship?

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Locsin signed a VFA termination notice — to be “delivered to the US embassy in Manila forthwith,” according to his undersecretary Brigido Dulay.

Is Duterte’s decision final or subject to change? What’s terminated can be reinstated by him or a future president.

Given US rage by Republicans and Dems to control the Indo/Pacific, maintaining a Pentagon presence in the Philippines a key part of it, the US ruling class will surely try to keep the status quo unchanged.

Stay tuned for future developments.

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