Archive for US President Barack Obama

BINAY BACKS SENATE MOVE TO ABROGATE VFA

Posted in UNO Press Release with tags , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by joselito capariño

PRESS RELEASE
24 SEPTEMBER 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

BINAY BACKS SENATE MOVE TO ABROGATE VFA; SAYS ARROYO ADMIN MUST ANSWER CHARGES OF ALLOWING US TO EXPAND MILITARY BASES IN RP DESPITE CONSTITUTIONAL BAN

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said the Arroyo administration must answer charges that it has allowed the United States to expand its military presence in the country despite the constitutional ban on foreign military bases.

At the same time, Binay backed the Senate move to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), saying the lopsided accord should be corrected to emphasize Philippine sovereignty.

In a statement from Geneva, Switzerland where he is attending the World Scouting Conference in his capacity as its Asia-Pacific chair, Binay said it is high time that the United States “recognizes the Philippines as an equal partner, and show respect for our sovereignty.”

“The administration of US President Barack Obama has always emphasized the importance of cooperation between nations. It follows that such an approach should be premised on respect for sovereignty, and treating other nations as equal partners,” he said.

“The VFA is a lopsided agreement that needs to be immediately rectified,” he added.

The opposition leader said the Arroyo administration has yet to respond to reports made by international policy groups on growing US presence in the Philippines , which is seen as a circumvention of the Constitutional provision banning US bases.

Binay cited the increasing number of US military exercises since 2001, reports of the growing number of port visits by US warships and the alleged “underreported presence” of a unit of US Special Operations Forces stationed continuously and indefinitely in various camps throughout Mindanao since 2002.

Senators approved on second reading Wednesday a resolution urging Malacañang to abrogate the VFA, should the US object to a renegotiation.

Senate Resolution No. 1356 authored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the administration to give the US a notice of termination in case US officials object to a renegotiation.

Binay said the unfairness of the VFA was again highlighted when US Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was flown out of the country a day after the Court of Appeals overturned his 2006 conviction for rape. Smith had been found guilty of raping a Filipina the year before.

Authorities quarreled publicly over the incident, with Interior and Local Government officials saying it was in violation of a custodial agreement with security officers of the US embassy, and Foreign Affairs officials maintaining that there are different rules governing the handling of US military personnel involved in criminal cases in the Philippines .

Such a revelation clinches the case for the abrogation of the VFA, Binay said.

International observers have said the US is intent on increasing its presence in Southeast Asia to counter the growing influence of China is the region.

While originally premised on the war against terrorist groups in the region, the US is transforming its presence in the Philippines “to heighten its capacity for intervention within the country and region,” according to the group Focus for the Global South in a report titled “At the Door of All the East: The Philippines in United States Military Strategy.”

The report said because of its strategic location, the Philippines is among the countries where the US wants to set up bases but is unable to do so because of the ban imposed in the Constitution.

BINAY URGES OBAMA TO WARN ARROYO VS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, EFFORTS TO AMEND CONSTITUTION

Posted in UNO Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2009 by joselito capariño

PRESS RELEASE
29 JULY 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today urged US President Barack Obama to sternly remind Mrs. Arroyo that his government will not support violations of human rights and efforts to amend the Philippine Constitution intended to allow Mrs. Arroyo to stay in power beyond 2010.

“These reminders will be consistent with the stated policy of the Obama administration, which have been made reiterated by the US President in his recent policy statements to foreign governments,” he said.

Binay cited Obama’s recent speech before the parliament of Ghana , where the US president warned against the scourge of corruption and tyranny.

In that speech, President Obama criticized leaders “who exploit the economy to enrich themselves” and governments “where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery.”

“Those words describe the situation that we have under the administration of Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.

The opposition leader said he is hopeful Obama will not back efforts by Mrs. Arroyo to extend her hold on power even if she offers the reopening of US military bases in the Philippines .

With Charter change still high on the administration’s agenda, Binay said Arroyo’s congressional allies could move to lift the constitutional ban on US military bases in the country, alongside a shift to the parliamentary form of government, where Mrs. Arroyo intends to become prime minister.

PDP-Laban President Jojo Binay

Foreign observers have said the Philippines has become more strategic to the US in view of the growing influence of China in the region.

The Makati mayor is among several prominent personalities – former senators, Cabinet members, Church and civil society leaders and a retired justice – who released an open letter to the US president Wednesday.

“Upon your invitation, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have the chance to meet with you on July 30 2009. In your meeting with Mrs. Arroyo, it may serve you well to be mindful of Mrs. Arroyo’s legacy of corruption, extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, bribery, election cheating and others. We do not wish to belabor you with the details of these high crimes which have been sufficiently documented and reported by the US State Department to your Office,” the letter said.

“In your meetings with Mrs. Arroyo, we feel confident that you will make clear to her that a government that does not comply with the principles of democracy and respect for human rights cannot have the approval and support of your administration. We implore you Mr. President to inspire hope and be an instrument of change for the common good of the long suffering Filipino people,” it added.

Aside from Binay, other signatories to the open letter are former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, former Supreme Court Justice Camilo Quiazon, former senators Wigberto Tanada, Sergio Osmena III, Vicente Paterno, and Agapito Aquino, former DOTC Secretary Josefina Lichauco, former solicitor general Frank Chavez, former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, former DTI Secretary Juan Santos, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Atty. Harry Roque, and NBN-ZTE whistleblower Jun Lozada.

OBAMA-ARROYO AGENDA: BASING RIGHTS IN EXCHANGE FOR TERM EXTENSION?

Posted in UNO Press Release with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2009 by joselito capariño

PRESS RELEASE
13 JULY 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today warned that the Arroyo administration may conveniently dangle allowing the US to open military bases here in exchange for support for term extension through Charter Change.

“The 1987 Constitution expressly prohibits foreign military bases in the country. But with Arroyo allies intent on amending the Constitution, the ban can be amended to allow the US to again open military bases in the Philippines ,” he said.

In exchange, the administration may seek US support for Mrs. Arroyo’s plan to amend the Charter and shift to a parliamentary form of government, he said.

“The main political concern of the US is that the elections push through in 2010. Mrs. Arroyo has assured the US there will be elections, but she did not say it will be under a presidential form,” he said.

“We all know the elections that they are contemplating is for a parliament where Mrs. Arroyo plans to become prime minister,” he added.

Mrs. Arroyo is set to meet with US President Barack Obama on July 30.

International observers have said the US is intent on increasing its presence in Southeast Asia to counter the growing influence of China is the region.

While originally premised on the war against terrorist groups in the region, the US is transforming its presence in the Philippines “to heighten its capacity for intervention within the country and region,” according to the group Focus for the Global South in a report titled “At the Door of All the East: The Philippines in United States Military Strategy.”

The report said because of its strategic location, the Philippines is among the countries where the US wants to set up bases.

Binay said despite the constitutional ban on foreign military bases, the report said Arroyo administration has allowed the US to expand its military presence in the country.

The report cited the increasing number of US military exercises since 2001; the growing number of ports visited by U.S. warships and the alleged “underreported presence” of a unit of U.S. Special Operations Forces stationed continuously and indefinitely in various camps throughout Mindanao since 2002, with its headquarters inside the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.