Updated News Release
January 8, 2007
Sovereignty made cheap
RP one of biggest recipients of US military aid
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is accusing the government of putting a price tag on RP-US relations, saying that this has cheapened the country’s sovereignty and has led to compromises with the US .
According to Bayan, the Philippines is one of the largest recipients of foreign military aid from the US , thus explaining the attitude of the Arroyo government towards the souring of the relations between the two countries.
However, Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. dismissed as a myth the claim that the Philippines stands to benefit from continued US military presence in the country. The Arroyo government has claimed that the existence of the Visiting Forces Agreement has resulted in immense benefits for the Philippines .
Citing reports from the Library of US Congress-Federal Research Division on the Philippines dated March 2006, the total U.S. military assistance to the Philippines rose from US$38 million in 2001 to US$114 million in 2003 and a projected US$164 million in 2005.
“This makes the Philippines one of the largest recipient of US foreign military assistance. Still, this can’t be used to justify RP subservience to US dictates. You can’t put a price tag on sovereignty,” Reyes said.
And it remains big even for this year. According to the US Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations (Fiscal Year 2007), the Philippines will continue to receive a hefty amount of military aid, though much smaller compared to staunch US allies like Israel. In 2005, other US allies like Israel received $2.2 billion in FMF while Egypt gets $1.28 billion.
Worldwide, the biggest recipients of US Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a component of Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) include in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Columbia, Poland and the Philippines, according to the US Congress budget report.
The Philippines received $29.7 million FMF in 2005 and 2006 and is set to receive $17.6 million in 2007.
The Philippines is also the largest recipient of FMF in the East Asia and the Pacific Region, bigger than the combined FMF for Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Mongolia which is at around $11.3 million.
Bayan also revealed that based on a Federal Research Division case study on the Philippines, another $2.7 million was given as part of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program in 2004.
Based on a US Congressional report, the Philippines received $2.9 million for the IMET in 2005, the third largest recipient of US military education and training support, behind Turkey and Jordan.
At $148 million, the Philippines is also the number one recipient in Asia of Excess Defense Articles.
“US military assistance to the Philippines may appear big, especially from the viewpoint of a mendicant Philippine government. This may explain why the Arroyo regime will do anything to please the US government, even if this means surrendering sovereignty and jurisdiction over convicted criminals,” Reyes said.
“It is appalling that the Philippine government would surrender national dignity in exchange for ‘excess defense articles’ or surplus military goods. That is the height of cheapness,” Reyes said.
Bayan however disputed the claim that foreign military assistance will ever lead to the modernization of the AFP.
“Why is it that despite having US bases for more than 50 years, the Philippine armed forces did not modernize? Why is it that after 6 years of the VFA, the AFP still did not modernize?,” Reyes said.
Reyes also said that the US dollars being poured in for the Philippine military is the lifeline of a fascist institution responsible for widespread human rights violations.
“Both the Filipino and American people must realize that the US dollars being spent on the AFP fuels the number one instrument of repression in the country, responsible for more than 800 cases of extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo administration alone. United States military aid is propping up the current repressive regime, much as it did the Marcos dictatorship,” Reyes said.