To the editor:
Despite what seemed like a "mutually favorable" package for the bases in the next two years, very few Americans know the real story behind the U.S. bases in the Philippines.The U.S. government, through the U.S. embassy, mounted a multi-million dollar propaganda blitz to sway Philippine public opinion for the bases.
Against the background of the Philippine's devastated economy and huge external debt of $29 billion dollars, American spokesmen are dropping dark threats that U.S. aid and investments might suffer should Manila decide to terminate the military bases agreement, due to expire in 1991, and renewed temporarily at the cost of $481 million a year for the next two years.
The U.S. still keeps harping on two worn-out arguments for the retention of the bases - both shot through with holes from the Philippines point of view.
Argument No. 1 is that the bases are in the Philippines for "common defense." What is curious, though, is how top officials, both civilian and military of the U.S. government, in past hearings before the U.S. Senate and Congress, candidly concede that these bases do not protect the Philippines as much as the U.S. and its economic and business interests.
Argument No. 2, which the U.S. government now loves to play in view of the desperate state of the Philippine economy, is the so-called economic benefits the country is supposed to be getting because of the bases. They cite employment figures, base spendings, business contracts with local firms, and economic military assistance.
However, American propagandists conveniently slur over other pertinent facts: that Filipino employees in these facilities are paid less than their American counterparts in U.S. bases in Japan or Korea; that the Economic Support Fund is tightly controlled by the U.S. government, and many of the projects under it benefit the U.S. itself; that a good part of military assistance is in the form of credits that must eventually be paid for by Filipino taxpayers. Moreover, they gloss over the social costs: prostitutes and abandoned children, drug traffic and alcoholism, and now AIDS.
The U.S. bases in the Philippines must go in the future for these evidently very compelling reasons.
First and foremost, the bases have always been a derogation of national sovereignty, evident from the moment they were forced on the Philippines and throughout the history of their existence.
Just as important a reason, the bases are inimical to national interest. Time and again, they have been used as springboards for U.S. intervention, not only in the Philippines but also in the region, as in the cases of Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam - aggressive acts that work against the Philippines true security interests.
Given the presence of nuclear weapons and infrastructures in them, despite that charade of a U.S. policy of no-denial, no-confirmation, they are magnets of enemy attack that could destroy the Philippines.
Joaquin Gonzalez III
Filipino graduate student
University of Utah