Gabriela solon: No more women for US troops! Abrogate the VFA!

Apr. 07, 2009

“History and recent experience should have taught us that the presence of US troops in the country has been exploiting our women,” said Gabriela solon Luzviminda Ilagan, citing reports on US soldiers being given prostituted women for leisure in Bicol.

Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed his concern over reports that American soldiers involved in the Balikatan joint military exercise with Filipino troops in Bicol were supplied with women nightly.

Prostitution can be understood in the light of the effects of unemployment and the worsening economic conditions of the people and can only be addressed by government providing them decent jobs. Taking advantage of the increasing vulnerability of poor women by American troops is an unforgivable issue, Rep. Ilagan said.

The Gabriela solon noted that it is a well-known practice of American soldiers and their Filipino counterparts to look for ‘rest and recreation’ in localities after military exercises.

A study made by Talikala Foundation, Inc., a Davao -based institution assisting prostituted women, showed that women are lured to areas where there are on going military activities, such as joint Balikatan exercises.

Incidence of rape and other forms of sexual abuse increases but which unfortunately go unreported as the victims are forced to keep silent about this. Under the existing provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), very little can be done by these victims to attain justice, Ilagan said.

Such was the case of Nicole, who had lived a normal life with her family in Zamboanga until her complaint against US Lance Corporal Daniel Smith. The celebrated case exposed the loopholes and the unequal provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, she added.

“It is imperative to abrogate the VFA and send the American soldiers out of the country before more Filipino women fall prey to abuse and exploitation, Ilagan said.

Rep. Ilagan, together with representatives from progressive partylists, has co-authored House Resolution 458, calling for the abrogation of the VFA. The nine-year old agreement shows that its onerous provisions that denigrates Philippine sovereignty and paves the way for the permanent presence and basing of US troops in the country without a treaty through successive military exercises. Thus, the VFA violates article XVIII, Section 25 of 1987 constitution.

Ilagan also co-authored HR 1019, calling for the termination of the VFA because it tramples on Philippine sovereignty and is an unequal agreement citing the continued refusal of the US government to surrender custody of Cpl. Daniel Smith.

For reference:

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (0920-9213221)

Lorie Ann Cascaro, Public Information Officer (0920-9523463)

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