DAVAO CITY – The student council of the Mindanao campus of the University of the Philippines warned that it would hold protest activities to demonstrate its indignation over it called as a lopsided Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.

The warning came as the council held recently a candle-lighting protest inside the campus on October 24, timed with the commemoration of the United Nations’ Day, to join the national clamor for justice for the killing of Jennifer Laude by an American serviceman on a rest and recreation tour to the Philippines.

Council Chairperson John Villadolid said that “there will be more anti-EDCA activities in the upcoming Human Rights Month”.

Abdul Sissay, chairperson of the Anak-UPMin said that lopsided executive agreements with the US “will pose a threat to our national sovereignty because this would provide the US military an inclusive access to local bases and would allow joint activities between the U.S. and our country as Article III, Section 3 of EDCA states that US forces shall have access to agreed locations without rental or similar costs.”

Sissay explained how EDCA is lopsided in favor of the US.

“Article VII, Sec. 1 of EDCA states that US troops can access Philippine military facilities and use utilities such as water and electricity but will be tax-exempt, with their taxes being paid for by the Philippine government. We are the government. We pay for their stay,” he said.

Sissay said that “we entered into an agreement that allows the US an unlimited access to our facilities by limiting our access to theirs”.

Juno Vargas, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students at Ateneo de Davao University, said he was frustrated over President Benigno Aquino III’s “silence on the murder case and scrapping the idea of nullifying the Visiting Forces Agreement”.

“This EDCA could use Philippines as a staging ground of armed interventions to hold strikes and missiles and so on. This drags the Philippines into conflicts not of our choosing, it opens us as a target of US enemies,” he said.

Vargas added that “US uses its Third World allies to forward its greater interest in the region. This is why EDCA is a ‘war magnet’.” (davaotoday.com)

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