Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luz Ilagan today said President Benigno Aquino III should raise the issue of making US troops accountable for crimes, subjecting the Visiting Forces Agreement to an intensive review and the possible pullout of US troops as part of the agenda when US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrives in Manila.
"The VFA and the presence of US troops have long proven disadvantageous to our country. These have resulted to various human rights violations and worsened prostitution. Secretary Clinton's visit is an opportune time for President Aquino to ensure that agreements like the VFA do not transgress our sovereignty and violate our people especially our women."
The Gabriela solon cites the Subic rape case and the noted increase in the number of prostituted women especially in Mindanao areas where US troops have been stationed. "Women's groups like Gabriela and Talikala have observed an increase in prostitution in Davao and Zamboanga, and even documents prostituted children as young as 9 years old."
Ilagan further said that not much has been done to make US soldiers involved in military operations accountable for their violations. "We have seen their involvement in the closure of the Panamao district hospital and the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal. There have been countless violations and no one have been made to answer for all of these."
Ilagan who also hails from Mindanao also expressed fears that continues US troop deployment especially in Mindanao areas will serve to intensify ongoing conflicts and jeopardize peace talks.
"US geopolitical interests in Mindanao are clear and Sec. Clinton will definitely ensure that these are adequately protected with the continued presence of US troops in the region. The US government and the US military have no business meddling in Philippine affairs. We challenge President Aquino to assert Philippine sovereignty and to keep the US out of Philippine concerns." Jang Monte, Public Information Officer, Office of Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan