Campus journalists to Aquino: Stop defending VFA

WHILE in the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, President Benigno S. Aquino III told the media that the intrusion of US Navy minesweeper USS Gaurdian in Tubbataha Reef, which resulted to the destruction of 1,000 square meters of coral reef, has no connection with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest, broadest and only existing alliance of tertiary student publications in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific region, views Aquino’s statement as an attempt to veer from the ill effects of VFA to the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Apart from the ecological effects of the incident, the US vessel also defied the authority of the park rangers over the no-navigation area of Tubbataha Reef Natural Park which is a clear violation to our sovereignty over our own territorial waters.

“In the first place, the USS Guardian is not supposed to be inside the no-navigation waters of Tubbataha Reef,” said Marc Lino Abila, CEGP National Deputy Secretary-General.
“US troops are acting like they own our seas. The Visiting Forces Agreement gives power to the US military to intrude in our territory.”

US Navy did not only violate the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park Act of 2009 which aims to protect and preserve the reef but also our authority to our land and seas.

“Aquino’s statement is a mere effort to defend the US from violating our sovereignty and authority to our territory. Making the US accountable for the damaged corals is not enough. Their continuing defilement to our independence and sovereignty is graver,” Abila said.

The presence to US military forces in the country under the Aquino administration is a manifestation that this government is not serving the interest of the Filipino people but that of the American government. Their presence in the Philippines causes several violations, not only to our sovereignty of our nation, but also to the rights of the Filipino people.

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