MANILA, May 9, 2011—Notwithstanding the alleged threats of terrorist attack, in connection with the death of the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) urged the Philippine government to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
The VFA is a special treaty signed by theUSand the Philippine governments in the early ‘90s as part of the strengthening scheme of Armed Forces of thePhilippines’ (AFP).
The LFS also rejected the idea of re-establishing theUSbases here, saying that it would pose a grave threat to the national security and safety of the people.
“It has been 20 years since the Filipino people rejectedUSmilitary bases inSubic. Nothing can justify the bases’ return, not even Aquino’s call to intensify security in the country, amid the death of purported al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden,” says LFS chairperson Terry Ridon, in a statement sent to this reporter.
The law student from the University of the Philippines also quipped that the US government’s “war on terror” has already claimed millions of lives and destroyed properties amounting to billions and billions of dollars, but neither has stopped terror activities all over the world, nor had dismantled organizations, tagged as terrorist fronts, the likes of al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah.
He also said that the plan of re-establishing theUSbases here can also lead to a Constitutional crisis as it is considered direct intervention, by a foreign political power, to local affairs. The 1987 Philippine Constitution, Ridon said, prohibits such intervention.
“President Aquino, in reaction to the death of Osama, has expressed the importance of strengthening national security. This administration has adopted the 2009 US Counterinsurgency guide through Oplan Bayanihan, and through this, it has legitimized US intervention,” explains Ridon.
Osama’s ‘network of supporters’
Meanwhile,USPresident Barack Obama recently disclosed that Osama might have a “network of supporters” insidePakistan, which has enabled the al Qaeda leader to escape his arrest, for years.
News reports said that Osama had been hiding in highly secured compound in Abbottabad. The city, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, part of the Hazara region, is a major tourist destination inPakistanand is the home for thePakistanMilitaryAcademy. The District Nazim, Commissioner, Inspector General and Forest Conservator also live there.
Obama, on the other hand, says that there were no information available if some of bin Laden’s supporters belong toPakistan’s bureaucracy. TheUSchief was also quick in saying thatPakistanis “their partner on the war on terror.”
Not a war against Islam
On May 2, hours after the confirmation of bin Laden’s death through a surprise attack carried by theUSforces inPakistan, theUS’s chief executive made it clear that their war on terror was, and has never been, a battle against Islam.
“As we do, we must also reaffirm that theUnited Statesis not –- and never will be – at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as [former] President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” Obama said in his speech, as published on White House’s official website. (Noel Sales Barcelona, for CBCPNews.com)