“To achieve enduring peace in the region, Asia must be de-militarized; its maritime waters assigned mainly for commerce; and its disputed territories declared as regional commons and war-free zones.”
The Scrap VFA! Movement made this assertion during a rally held near the Malacañang Palace where US President Barack Obama and President Benigno S. Aquino III are scheduled to meet Monday afternoon.
The call for demilitarization is primarily addressed to both the US and China. China is locked in bitter territorial disputes with its neighbours, particularly the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea. On the other hand the US, under Obama’s “pivot to Asia” plan, is realigning its forces in Asia by securing permanent and temporary military basing agreements with regional allies.
One such new basing agreement is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines.
The Scrap VFA! Movement said the EDCA must be opposed, “not because it is illegal but mainly because it will be utilized by the US as a binding instrument for waging senseless wars in the region.”
According to the movement, Obama’s Asia tour was aimed at consolidating military and legitimizing his controversial “Asia Pivot” program. His “Asia Pivot,” the group said, is not about peace or regional security but on the contrary, a major re-arrangement of US forces in preparation for a major war.
“When US made known its “Asia Pivot” plan, we saw no other logic to it but war, with the US preparing in advance for a major confrontation with its rising strategic challenger, China,” said the Scrap VFA Movement.
The Philippines, it said, should rather call on both the US and China to back-off or at the least, do not play host to these warring superpowers.
Many observers likewise believe that it was Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” plan that forced the hawks in China to rapidly build its defense capabilities and to flauntingly assert its position as regional power to deter perceived encirclement by the US.
The movement said war may not be imminent but a single spark, for example a mishandling of territorial disputes between China and the Philippines, can start a prairie fire.
On the visit of Obama, the Scrap VFA! Movement expressed disapproval of the hegemonic agenda the US is imposing over Asia by military means, and economically through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreements.
It also criticised Obama for acting like the world’s redeemer while in truth he is miserably failing at home.
“Filipinos may have a better view of the United States compared with other people, according to a recent survey, but for patriotic Filipinos who know the chequered history of US-RP relationship and who are aware of the current state of affairs in the US, its imposing presence in the region is a threatening concern,” the group concluded.