EVEN House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is convinced that the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States is not helping the country at all.
In a statement, Cayetano supports the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to review the VFA and eventually terminate the military agreement.
“Today, if we do our research and review the facts, we can see that we have been neglected by the United States. They have stood by blindly as we were abused by our neighbors and our territory snatched from us,” Cayetano said.
“And their former enemies – despite still differing values on democratic process and human rights – continue to get better treatment and more resources from them than their old friend, and ever reliable ally, the Philippines,” the Speaker added. 3
He also said the Filipinos, while respecting the agreement, expect mutual respect and equality.
“President Duterte has always been very clear. The Philippines shall be a friend to all nations and an enemy to none. But friendship is only real if it is built upon a foundation of equality and mutual respect,” CAyetano pointed out.
“Without equality that comes regardless of a nation’s size, wealth, or military strength, one country is no better than the slave of the other. Without the notion of equality, there can be no respect. And without respect, the relationship can never be mutually beneficial because there will be no common interest that bind the parties to seek what is good for all. This inequality will result in abuse. And while friends may use each other, they must never abuse each other,” he added.
The former Foreign Affairs Secretary said that while Filipinos have an atachment to America and affinity with the Americans, it doesn’t mean that Filipinos should be “yes men” to the US and throw away the Constitutional mandate of an independent foreign policy.
“While we acknowledge the benefits of being in the strong protective embrace of America’s armies, these changing times show that those protective arms are not so protective when the US interest clashes with ours,” Cayetano also said.
The House leader said President Duterte is right in calling for our own armed forces to grow and develop.
“Should we not take on the responsibility of defending our own nation and our people? To expand horizons and benefit from homegrown resources as well as the friendship of many other military powers -- some old, others -- friends to the Philippines all,” he also stressed.
Cayetano proposed to spend the next few days reviewing not only the VFA but also the long relationship with the United States government.
“We sincerely hope that our friendship with the American people and the US government will grow stronger. We pray that they will meet us at least half way in finding a mutually beneficial and mutually respectful balance to our longtime relationship,” he also said.