Fil-Am college students wary of Obama's PH visit

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

April 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – President Barack Obama leaves for Asia on Tuesday for a four-nation tour that includes the Philippines.

The White House says Obama’s visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines is the United States’ way of strengthening relationships with its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama is expected to attend a formal dinner with President Aquino during his visit to Manila on April 28 to April 29.

Philippine government officials said defense and security are among issues at the top of the agenda when both leaders meet.

Obama’s visit comes as the Philippines and the United States are about to sign an improved defense deal that would allow Americans more access to Philippine military bases.

But Filipino-American college students in San Francisco said having more U.S. military presence there will not do the Philippines any good.

“There has been a history of oppressive American military presence there and I think that oppressive history would repeat itself,” Mikey Herrera said.

“I think that this whole tension with China can be used as excuse for the U.S. military to occupy more territory than they already had,” Dara del Rosario said.

The Philippines and China are in the middle of a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Rodel Rodis, president of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance said President Aquino should seek stronger U.S. military support in the region during his meeting with President Obama.

“The presence of the U.S. in or around the disputed area protects the Philippines from an invasion by China,” Rodis said. “The fact that the U.S. has made it clear to China that any invasion, any attack on the Philippines, will trigger the 1951 U.S./Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty. That is what is deterring China from occupying at this time.”

Rodis said having an increased U.S. military presence in the disputed areas does not violate the Philippine constitution.

“This is a temporary situation,” he said. “The Philippine Constitution specifically prohibits U.S. military bases being stationed in the Philippines. What is being proposed is the use of Philippine bases by the U.S. on a rotational basis as part of the treaty obligations.”

Besides declaring more military support for the Philippines, Rodis hopes Obama will also announce the approval of an immigration relief that could benefit so many kababayans in the United States.

“We are hoping that while he’s in the Philippines he could announce that the Obama administration will grant temporary protected status to the Philippines, which will result in at least 300,000 Filipinos in the U.S. who are out of status, who are subject to deportation or removal, that they will be able to legalize their status,” he said. “They will receive work permits, even get permission to travel to the Philippines and return back here.”

For now, all these Filipino-Americans can do is monitor Obama’s visit to the Philippines and hope that in the end the United States will uphold the interests of its longtime ally.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Thomas Christopher Ty
    23 April 2014 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Those protesters are nothing but cowards. Why? Do they even protests against China? Of course, you can’t both the protesters and China have a communist political ideology.

  • IPS
    23 April 2014 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    It remind us the parents of our President they protested the presence of US bases at Clark and Subic. When the mother came to power she kicked out the Americans,160,000 pinoy families lost their jobs at Clark and Subic..And of course Cory embraces China as their family root came from..