HomeNewsInt’l coalition slams Blinken visit, US military expansion in the PH

Int’l coalition slams Blinken visit, US military expansion in the PH

International human rights defenders praised the rallies held in Manila against State Secretary Antony Blinken’s visit, opposing the Philippines’ involvement in the United States’ preparations for war against China.

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) said it salutes the protests organized by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) last Tuesday, March 19, against the extension of US military installations in the Philippines.

“The Filipino people don’t want to be a battlefield for a great power war, and ICHRP urges all nations in the region – South East Asia and North East Asia – to deescalate the frightening military buildup towards war,” ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy said.

In his meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Malacanan Palace last Tuesday, Blinken said he reiterated the US’ “ironclad commitment” to defend the Philippines as tensions with China over South China Sea disputes continue to rise.

In a joint press conference with his Philippine counterpart Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Blinken said that under the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, Washington is bound to defend Manila from “armed attacks on the Filipino armed forces, public vessels, aircraft – including those of its coast guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.”

Shifting from the pro-China stance of the previous Rodrigo Duterte government, the Marcos Jr. administration in February 2023 agreed to provide four more military installations to the US under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA).

These are the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan; and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan.

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Three of the four are oriented towards Taiwan, the flashpoint for a potential war by the US against China, ICHRP said.

On its own, the US maintains a strong presence in the South China Sea, with military aircraft overflights, so-called freedom of navigation operations, and naval patrols.

It also conducts regular military exercises with the Philippines and other allies, the biggest of which was held in April last year which China sees as an escalation of US aggression in the region.

ICHRP said it opposes US military expansion in the Philippines, also accusing Australia, Canada, and Japan of remaining silent on gross human rights violations under the Marcos Jr. government in favor of deepening military cooperation and arms sales to the Philippines.

This is part of the countries’ broader China containment strategy, the coalition added.

This article was first published by KODAO Productions

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