The Philippines President Duterte’s recent announcement that the 1998 U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) would be cancelled has renewed hope that not only would this former U.S. colony finally attain freedom from imperial manipulation, but also that a new emerging age of infrastructure development can usher in an end of poverty and war in the Pacific.
On Feb. 7, the Philippine president notified the USA that a 180 day period has begun in which time American military personal will have to evacuate the territory with Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin stating “the deputy chief of mission of the embassy of the united states has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a diplomatic courtesy there will be no further factual announcements following this self explanatory development.”
Why America’s neocons have been caught blindsided by this announcement remains a mystery as Duterte has threatened to cancel this treaty since his first weeks in office and even told RT on January 24 that “America is not the Philippines and the Philippines is not America. It ain’t that way anymore and I refuse to dovetail under American foreign policy”.
This announcement puts yet another wrench in the gears of those agencies attempting to run a war plan against China as part of the Obama-era Pivot to Asia and broader full spectrum dominance agenda with a vast military infrastructure spread out around China’s perimeter. Some of the points of tension built up carefully over the years around China (any of which acting as a potential spark plug to nuclear war) include North Korea, Japan’s territorial conflict with China, Malaysia and the Philippines’ dispute with China over the resource-rich South China Sea.
With the killing of the VFA, over 300 military engagements will now be flushed as will America’s capacity to rotate U.S. troops through Philippines military bases. Its death also brings Duterte one step closer to ending the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed under Obama-clone Benigno Aquino III in 2014. In 2015, while leading a fight against the EDCA, Citizen National Guard founder Butch Valdez was the first analyst to state that the U.S. military installations had likely stockpiled nuclear weapons aimed. But stated that U.S. bases “may very possibly be silos of nuclear armed medium-long range rockets aimed at China.” In recent months Duterte joined Valdez in this analysis.
In March 2019, Philippines Secretary of Defense and long-time Duterte collaborator with Delfin Lorenzana stated to EIR magazine:
“We are in striking distance of Chinese medium range missiles. If U.S. forces would be stationed here, if there is a conflict between the United States and China, then we are a fair target by the Chinese.”
Although the surface excuse used to justify this act has been the American revocation of Senator Dela Rosa’s visa, the true reasons for this break from American military doctrine go much deeper as alluded to by Valdez. Dela Rosa is the former national police chief who headed Duterte’s drug war and is accused by western neo liberal circles of not respecting the human rights of the Philippines’ powerful narco terrorists- 12 000 of whom have died since the crackdown began, and which Trump has supported enthusiastically on multiple occasions.
Trump has also separated himself loudly from war hawks in administration by giving his full support to Duterte’s decision to end the VFA stating “well I never minded that very much, to be honest. We helped the Philippines very much. We helped them defeat ISIS… I don’t really mind if they would like to do that. It will save a lot of money. My views are different from others.”
The deeper reasons for the ending of the VFA and expanded U.S. military access to the Philippines has more to do with the fact that it has become clearly evident that the American agenda for war with China over any number of Pacific hotspots would result in any host country working with America to be wiped off the map in such war. The fact that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Pact signed in 1951 is still active to this day, makes American military activity in the Philippines ever more dangerous. As Duterte’s enemy Senator Panfilo Lacson lamented, killing the VFA would reduce the 1951 treaty “to a mere paper treaty as far as the U.S. is concerned.”
In his EIR interview, Lorenzana went onto describe the danger of Duterte’s assassination by U.S. neocons who are in opposition to the positive relationship Duterte shares with President Trump, and also the importance of the Philippines’ turn towards a pro-China/Russia alliance since Duterte’s inauguration:
“We have been cautioned by our friends that the neocons might try to take out the President. Even President Duterte talked about that several times in his public speeches. They are watching what our President does, that if he does things that align with their interests, as the neocons see it, or if President Duterte gets closer with the Chinese, Russia and India. But China said they don’t want a military alliance with anybody. They want to have trade relations with everybody. They want to help people to improve themselves so that we can trade.”
Indeed, on November 2018, the Philippines signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and Duterte has invoked a Build Build Build strategy which relies heavily on Chinese investment into Philippines infrastructure. In his RT interview, Duterte stated “I want new open fronts with Russia and China, we have an increase in trade and commerce. It’s robust”.
Since 2016, China and the Philippines have signed historic joint resource development treaties across the South China Sea which American geopoliticians would rather see limited to a zone of conflict. Other Beijing-funded projects which synergize with the BRI include the Railway link from America’s former Clark Base to the new coastal city of Subic (another former U.S. Base), the creation of New Clark City which will relieve the population pressure from Manilla, two bridges of Pasig River in Manila and Chico Rivers, Pump irrigation projects in the north, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa dam and the Philippine National Railway South Long Haul which will soon begin construction. With an aim to reduce poverty from its current 26% to 13% by 2022 while ending the drug pandemic which has resulted in a vast criminal infrastructure covertly supported by western powers for decades, Duterte said that this new alliance with China would usher in “a golden age for Infrastructure”.
The first President to start this pro-China policy (after the western-backed color revolution coup which toppled Ferdinand Marcos in 1986) was Gloria Arroyo who led the nation from 2001-2010). Arroyo initiated a historic $8 billion trade deal with China in 2004 after removing Philippine troops from Iraq to the ire of Dick Cheney and John Bolton. Arroyo recently gave a speech eloquently expressing her understanding of the Philippines’ future in this new paradigm of win-win cooperation: “China is correct in striving for partnership and growth and development with its neighbors. This enlightened attitude provides a foundation for continued friendship between China and the world and indeed within China and the Philippines.”
As long as true economic development and long-term thinking drives all discussion of bilateral relationships, rather than empty talk of “good governance” and “free trade” so popular among shallow technocratic circles today, then a new age of peace and cooperation for all nations under a multipolar world order may yet occur.