Fil-Ams divided over new US-PH defense agreement

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Apr 30 2014 03:03 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2014 11:04 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Even before President Barack Obama’s trip to the Philippines, the U.S. and the Philippines have already signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which would allow increased U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

Filipinos are split on the presence of U.S. military forces in the Philippines.

While Obama was in Asia, some Filipino activists took to the streets all over America in protest.

They say the U.S. should interfere with Philippine affairs.

“We are opposed to the militarization because it not only tramples on the sovereignty but only the human level. It would also mean increased violence against women, pollution and toxic dumping around the lands and waters that the military is located in. And it would also devastate the local economy,"BAYAN-USA Vice-Chairman Rhonda Ramiro said.

Atty. Rodel Rodis said the new defense agreement and added military presence in the disputed areas will contain China’s aggression.

“People in the Philippines are commenting why can’t the U.S. be as unequivocal about defending the Philippines as it did about Japan. And the difference has to do with the nature of agreements that the Philippines has with Japan. The Philippine agreement with the United States is the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty,” said Rodis.

"That same agreement said that the U.S. was obligated to defend any public vessels that are under attack. That is the significance of the Sierra Madre because the Sierra Madre is an active Philippine Navy ship. So therefore if China attacks the Sierra Madre ship that is guarding the Ayungin Shoal that will trigger a U.S. response under the Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Rodis slammed the Filipino activists who protest the Philippines’ stronger ties with the U.S.

He said the Philippines have to be more sophisticated in dealing with China and Filipinos need the U.S. as a deterrent.

“People in the Philippines demonstrated against the Chinese embassy for the attacks on the Ayungin Shoal but your group in the U.S. hasn’t received the memo yet. Have you come out against China? They’re still trapped in the past and their mindset are still based on what happened it the past. They’re right about what happened in the past but let’s deal with the present. Let’s deal with the future,” said Rodis.