KASAMA Vol. 11 No. 3 / July–August–September 1997 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Asia Pacific
Category II consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council
Secretariat: Suit 406 Victoria Condominium,
41 Annapolis Street, Greenhills,
San Juan 1502,
Metro Manila,
• Ph: (632)722-0859 • Fax: (632)722-0755

We should like to call the attention, especially of women NGOs, to the following ominous developments that require our vigilance and action. We urge you to fax letters of concern/protest to Secretary Domingo L. Siazon of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, Philippines, fax: (632) 832 1597. Please also inform your contacts in the cities mentioned below and to get in touch with us for possible concerted action.

Whose Security is at Stake?

The sketchy information filtering through the press about the imminent signing by the US and RP government of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is cause for grave alarm on many counts. The secrecy with which these tasks have been conducted raise justified questions about possible attempts to circumvent provisions in the Philippine Constitution, particularly those governing military treaties and the entry into or presence of nuclear weapons in Philippine territory.

The guise of commercial or executive agreements being pushed in no way masks the military nature and intent of the proposed movements and activities of the US military in the Philippines. In fact, in the name of "security", renewed US military presence in the Philippines poses grave threats to Filipino sovereignty, risks of environmental damage and especially, social harm to Filipino women and children.

Condoned by an apparently helpless Philippine government, the US, through its policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons on its military vessels, has in the past violated the Philippine Constitution with impunity, and can fully be expected to continue to do so in and around the 22 ports to which the US Navy wants access for "R&R" and military exercises.

In this connection, it is worth noting the curious fact that the Philippines, the only Asean state to have a nuclear free provision in its constitution is also the only Asean state not to have signed and ratified the 1995 South East Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

The pressure being exerted by the US for the signing of a SOFA was recently felt when US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard publicly posed the threat that with delays in the signing, "the greater the risk that the security relationship will drift."

Apart from objecting to the bullying undertones of that statement (and that relationship), we would do well to re-examine the very concept of human security by recalling the heavy social and environmental impact and cost of past US military presence in our country: the thousands of dislocated lives of sexually exploited women, abandoned and marginalized Amerasian children, environmental damage through military toxic wastes and military exercises, the subservient economies, the crimes of rape and murder of women. Past experience clearly showed that the security of Filipino people, especially women and children, from the US military was never taken into account. Now it is to be feared that human security will be sacrificed once more as a result of the present government’s attitude of accommodation of and identification with US interests.

A true understanding of human security sees through and goes beyond the lethal power games that military establishments throughout history have falsely named and appropriated as issues of security.

It is an indisputable and historical fact, unfortunately of recent confirmation in Okinawa where a schoolgirl was raped by US servicemen and in Korea where a bar woman was brutally murdered, that militarism integrates a culture of racism, sexual aggression and other forms of violence.

In our own country too, such crimes have been committed against women and girls. Women’s organisations in the Philippines that have long worked on these issues are dismayed by the Philippine government’s seeming willingness to go back politically to square one: this time not just with an Olongapo or Angeles City bearing the brunt of intolerable social impacts on women and children, but with 22 cities and towns in the Philippines that will be sacrificed in the name of military and political interests that are not our own. US interests must not be allowed to prevail over the higher interests of Filipino women, men and children.



22 August 1997