Filipino activists in LA want VFA scrapped

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 16, 2014

LONG BEACH, Calif. – For years, activists have always said when U.S. forces are in the Philippines, human rights abuses happen. With a U.S. soldier suspected in the death of a transgender Filipina, the calls to end the U.S.-Philippine military ties are now getting louder.

Amid the Jennifer Luade murder case allegedly involving U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton, California-based activists have joined calls to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“We agree that the visiting forces agreement should be scrapped,” said Nikole Cababa, Regional Coordinator of Bayan USA So-Cal, “And we should include in that the most newly passed EDCA because that also opens the door to more militarization.”

EDCA, which was signed during President Barack Obama’s trip to the Philippines in April, paves the way for expanded U.S. military presence in the Philippines on a rotational basis and allows greater access to military installations.

Pemberton was among U.S. soldiers participating in joint military training exercises in the Philippines.

Supporters say militaries with the U.S. are needed to boost Philippine defense capabilities amid terrorism threats and territorial disputes against China. But critics say these military agreements do more harm than good.

“There are a number of human rights violations that we can look at under President Aquino’s administration,” said Cababa, “That shows that the U.S. military presence only increases the violence we see amongst women, children, and families across the Philippines.”

Pemberton remains in U.S. military custody, but the Philippine government wants to request for the U.S. Marine to be turned over to local authorities, something that activists are clamoring for.

“We demand President Aquino, as he has the power and responsibility, to compel the U.S. to surrender Pemberton,” said Terrie Cervas, Vice Chair of Gabriella USA. “We also demand President Obama to wave custody of Pemberton and we will continue to organize until these victims get justice.”

Activists will continue to call for justice in Jennifer’s death and the scrapping of the VFA and EDCA within the coming weeks. They plan on holding more vigils and a petition.

4 Comments on this post.

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  • filam
    16 October 2014 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Go back to the Philippines if you are against America

  • Kuya
    16 October 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Scrapping VFA is not the solution to the problem. Don’t be insensitive. Crimes like that happens everywhere and authorities are working for the victims family gets justice. Making the problem bigger affects us all…..

  • Delia
    16 October 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    To all activist rallying against USA , please go back home . America dont need you , the fact is you need America .

  • Mario
    16 October 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    SKorea became industrailized super power nation because of the presence of the American troops at the border bet NKorea. PH should had a better economy than SKorea if we did not kick out the Americans from Subic and Clark . After the eviction, China saw the opportunity and start grabbing our small islands. Presence of American troops in the form of VFA or EDCA will slow down China building their military bases inside PH territory.