ASEAN Summit must address the unwanted US military presence

Besides Spratly Islands dispute:
ASEAN leaders dared to raise issue of unwanted US military troops, at Summit

"Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III's call for peaceful sharing of Spratly Islands' resources is important, but the unwanted presence of US military troops and facilities in Asia-Pacific must also be raised by Aquino and other heads of state at the on-going ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The hundreds of US troops in the Philippines under the unconstitutional US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, the US military bases and its 47,000 troops in Okinawa, thousands of troops in Korea, and the Waihopai spybase on New Zealand soil are equally important issues affecting territorial sovereignty, peace and security in the region that must be challenged. The rape and prostitution of women, death of civilians and destruction of environment where US war games and exercises are being held must be stopped."

This was the challenge issued by peace advocates and anti-bases activist groups in New Zealand as they host Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel in a series of public meetings around NZ to promote support for peace process the Philippines.

Luis Jalandoni “Foreign troops and bases 
must not be allowed on Philippine soil”
At the meetings in Christchurch, Blenheim and Wellington, Jalandoni and Ledesma talked about continuing US economic domination and military intervention in the Philippines as major obstacles to peace in the Philippines. 

"The Waihopai spybase in New Zealand is used by the US to spy on countries like the Philippines. We support the struggle to have this closed down. National sovereignty must be upheld to achieve lasting peace in the Philippines. Foreign troops and bases must not be allowed on Philippine soil just as the Waihopai spybase in NZ and US bases in Okinawa must be closed down," Jalandoni stated.

According to Murray Horton, main host of the peace tour and Secretary of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), "Waihopai does not operate in the interests of New Zealanders or our neighbours.

Basically it is a foreign spybase on NZ soil and directly involves us in US wars. Although officially a 'New Zealand' facility, Waihopai is an American spybase in everything but name."

The Waihopai spybase was subjected to unprecedented public attention by the March 2010 trial and acquittal of the three Ploughshares peace activists who penetrated its high security in 2008 and deflated one of the two domes concealing its satellite dishes from the NZ public.

At the US-ASEAN leaders meeting last September 24, US Pres. Barack Obama stated: "Through the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) forum and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we're pursuing trade relationships that benefit all our countries. The United States also wants to focus on deepening its political and security cooperation with the region."

Waihopai: “a foreign spybase on NZ soil and directly involves us in US wars”
"By all indications, the US is poised to strengthen military presence in Asia-Pacific to protect its economic interests in the name of 'free trade' that ensures massive profits for giant US corporations and local elite. The US, which benefits from unrestricted trade in labour and capital investment in Asia-Pacific, is actually causing massive social inequities which are root causes of armed conflict in the Philippines. ''Free trade' fuels war," Rod Prosser, convenor of Wellington Kiwi Pinoy, another group hosting the NDFP peace tour, added.

"We are aware that Mr. Aquino courted US support for Philippines' bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership during his meeting with Obama. Just like APEC, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - World Trade Organisation (GATT-WTO) and other US-designed trade deals, TPP spells more profits for big business and nothing but losses for ordinary people in the Philippines, New Zealand and other countries," Horton noted.

Horton, who is also the Spokesperson of 'New Zealand Not for Sale' campaign, concluded, "Filipinos and New Zealanders have had enough of unrestrained trade liberalisation that destroyed local agriculture and industries. Thus the TPP issue is a common ground for us to oppose what is essentially a back door way of achieving another free trade agreement that will mainly benefit the US.

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