MANILA, Philippines -- Protesters calling for the scrapping of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement were caught off-guard when a Caucasian man angrily confronted them in front of the US Embassy along Roxas Blvd. Wednesday morning.
The foreigner, who sounded American, approached the "Scrap the VFA Movement" protesters at the tail end of their program and angrily told them, "Do you want to stop US aid to the Philippines?"
Before the group could respond, he was quickly ushered away by a Filipino woman, whom the protesters surmised to be his girlfriend or wife.
The group said they would have responded: "Our clear stand is that US aid to the Philippines is a package. It doesn't come without strings attached. Yes, it is fine with us if US aid to the Philippines is stopped," Chester Amparo, secretary general and spokesman of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya said in Filipino.
He said that in giving aid to the Philippines, the US was simply maneuvering to "win the hearts and minds of Filipinos" in return for business and political favors.
The VFA has made the Philippines a "launching pad" and "virtual base" of US politico-military strategies, according to a subsequent statement from the group. It also accused foreign troops of intervening in Philippine internal affairs by engaging in combat operations in Mindanao.
Wednesday saw the protesters flying paper planes, symbolic of the last plane that took off from the US Subic Naval Base in Zambales on Nov. 24, 1992, which marked its closure.
"But in the VFA, the very thing we rejected in the USMilitary Bases has returned," Amparo protested.
The "Scrap the VFA" movement is composed of advocacy groups Kilusan, Kaisa Ka, Wedpro, Catwap, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Partido ng Manggagawa and Makabayan.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement convened in the Senate to review the VFA and its implementation.