Gabriela Women’s Party has filed House Resolution 420 in support of President Duterte’s unequivocal pronouncement calling for the cessation of the Philippines- United States of America (PH-US) joint military exercises permitted under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The women’s group is urging full support for the ultimatum given by President Rodrigo Duterte on the military exercises between the Philippines and the United States. Speaking at a meeting with the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam, Duterte had said the upcoming Balikatan military exercises would be the last under his term.
“President Duterte is slowly but surely treading the path of an independent foreign policy. After decades of being tied to iniquitous military treaties that has in fact failed to modernize but stunted Philippine military capabilities, it is right and wise to terminate these treaties,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus.
De Jesus further said that with the President’s decision to terminate the Balikatan military exercises the partylist group will move introduce amendments in the 2017 General Appropriations Bill to realign the budget allocated for the Visiting Forces Agreement and US-RP military exercises stipulated in the proposed budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas also expressed full support for the President’s decision and expects the full compliance of affected agencies. She also hopes that pursuing justice for women and children victims of US military atrocities will follow next.
“The military exercises have spawned violations and abuses against women and children including the rape of Nicole in Subic and the death of Jennifer Laude. It has resulted to the prostitution and trafficking of Filipino women,” said Brosas.
“We are also hopeful that the President will soon assert the return of the Balangiga Bells as a symbolic gesture from the US government as an admission of the war crimes and atrocities committed by US forces against Filipinos. This will also serve to honor those who died in the Philippine-American War.” #