MANILA – Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan on Tuesday warned that another incident similar to the Subic rape case may happen following the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Speaking to dzMM, Ilagan said the country could see a rise in women and child abuse cases as a result of the 10-year defense deal that will allow greater US military presence in the country.
''Papaano itong mga kababaihan, kabataan na mamemeligro dahil alam naman natin na base sa ating kasaysayan, na kung saan nandon ang military forces, eh mag-susulputan na itong prostitution,'' Ilagan told dzMM.
''Nandyan na naman ang mga problema tulad ng HIV-AIDS at maraming kabataan natin ang mabibiktima na naman."
Ilagan said even if EDCA will contain a provision punishing criminal behavior, she believes that the US troops can still go around it, similar to what happened in the celebrated Subic rape case involving Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
''Susundin ba iyan? Sa VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), malinaw na sinabi doon na pwedeng parusahan ang isang sundalo, kapag ang kanyang kasalanan ay walang karela-relasyon sa trabaho, pero anong ginawa nila kay Daniel Smith? Ang haba ng kaso, pero sa kalaunan ay dinala sa Estados Unidos,'' Ilgan said.
''They will still violate and go around the provisions. Tayo pa rin ang dehado."
Ilagan said aside from a possible rise in cases of human rights violations, the defense pact can also cause damage to the country's environment.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares shared Ilagan's sentiment against the deal. ''Ang daming nangyaring krimen noong panahon ng bases - rape, child prostitution, illegal drugs, human rights violations - mayroon ka bang nalaman na isang Amerikanong na-convict?"
The EDCA is designed to promote interoperability, capacity building towards modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), strengthening of the AFP external defense, maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Under EDCA, US troops can have access and establish facilities in designated areas owned and controlled by the AFP.
The government has said the EDCA, signed on Monday by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, is an executive agreement that does not need Senate approval.
But Colmenares said the EDCA is unconstitutional since it was signed between the Philippine and US governments without being sent to the Philippine Senate for scrutiny.