by Roland G. Simbulan
Centennial Professor, University of the Philippines & Senior Fellow, Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG)
The presence of heavily armed U.S. soldiers even in the remote areas of the Philippine countryside is now becoming a normal part of the local scenery. As we mark the ten years (1999-2009) of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), we see that it has made our countryside a free-fire zone for so-called joint military exercises using live ammunition and artillery that have killed, injured or maimed our people and children. These foreign troops enter our territory without passports or visas, without clearances from our customs or immigration authorities, without quarantine clearances from our health authorities, with neither licenses nor registration for driving their vehicles in our country. They have gotten away with murder, attempted murder, rape, harassment of our women, maltreatment of our countrymen, and destruction of our environment. A document called the “Visiting Forces Agreement” has given them the right to do so.
read full article