DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The arrival of the USS McCampbell ship in Manila last week did not sit well with a Moro rights group that is critical of the US presence in the country.
Bai Ali Indayla, spokesperson of Kawagib Moro Human Rights group said the arrival of the USS Campbell proved that the “unequal treaty” between the Philippines and the U.S continues despite the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte to push for an independent foreign policy.
“We call and challenge President Duterte to be true to his words that he will end US imperialist intervention in the Philippines by junking the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Cooperation Defense Agreement),” the Moro woman leader said.
In a press release by the US Embassy Manila Information Office, it described the USS McCampbell as a forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. The ship arrived in Manila on Nov. 18.
“The port visit highlights the strong community and military connections between the Philippines and the United States,” the Embassy said.
“The brief port call will allow McCampbell to replenish supplies as well as give sailors time to rest and relax,” it added.
Filipino-American Petty Officer 1st Class Ambrosio Maddagan said he is excited to show the Filipino heritage and culture to his fellow shipmates.
The visit follows the completion of the training exercise with the Royal Brunei Navy during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2016.
The Embassy said CARAT is a series of annual maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of nine partner nations to include Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.
“McCampbell is on patrol with the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) in the U.S. 7th Fleet to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the Embassy said.
‘No more US troops’
During his official visit to Japan, Duterte told the Filipino community there that he may abrogate the executive military agreements with the US in two years.
“I want maybe in the next two years my country freed of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out. And if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will,” Duterte said at the Philippine Economic Forum at the Convention Hall of Prince Park Tower Tokyo Hotel on Oct. 26.
“This will be the last maneuver war games between the US and the Philippine military,” Duterte said.
Duterte also spoke about the withdrawal of US special forces in Mindanao last September.
Duterte, however, clarified that the ties and friendly relations between the US and the Philippines will remain after the election victory of US President-elect Donald Trump.
During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Nov. 19, Duterte again hit US and Western nations for “bullying small nations.”
He said US and other nations “seem to start a war, but are afraid to go to war.”
“They were waging war in so many places in Vietnam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And for one single reason that there was a weapon of mass destruction and there was none,” he said.
“They insist (that) if you are allied with them that they follow you. They go to the Korean war, nothing happened. They got defeated,” Duterte said, adding that the Philippines even sent soldiers in both Iraq and Vietnam war.
Stronger ties with China, Russia
Duterte, who also said that he does not want to be a lapdog of any country, met again with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Peru.
During his meeting with Xi in China in October, $24 billion worth of loans and business deals were signed.
Kawagib’s Indayla reminded Duterte of keeping his promise for the country to pursue an independent foreign policy.
Indayla said the framework that the President should work on is how to use the alliances to strengthen the Philippine economy and to build its own industry for the people’s benefit. (davaotoday.com)