US troops in Sulu province. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 17, 2011) – A Filipino lawmaker expressed alarm that proposals to amend the Constitution could open the door to the return of US military bases in the Philippines.
““Proposals to amend the Constitution threaten to nullify gains of the Philippines’ rejection of the Military Bases Treaty 20 years ago,” said Congresswoman Luz Ilagan.
Ilagan raised the alarm amid continuing committee deliberations at the House of Representatives on proposals to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly to introduce amendments to the Philippine Constitution.
According to Ilagan, once Congress allows Charter Change, there will be no stopping US-backed lobbyists from making sure that economic as well as military provisions are in tune with the promotion of US interests in the country.
“Aside from the removal of restrictions for foreign investors, there is no assurance that restrictions on the presence of foreign troops, military bases and facilities, including nuclear weapons will not be removed once we allow Charter Change,” Ilagan said.
“There is no denying the fact that the US considers the Philippines a major location for its counter terrorism activities in the region and that it intends to sustain military activity in the area to protect its economic and geopolitical interests. US will continue, even intensify its military intervention. Let us not hand over our sovereignty on a silver platter by tweaking our Constitution according to their dictates,” she added.
The US maintains several camps in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Maguindanao provinces and American troops are helping the Philippine military fight terrorism in Mindanao.