Speaker of the House of Representatives Alan Peter Cayetano has expressed his support for President Duterte in the matter of the Visiting Forces Agreement, particularly because the facts and history show that the contract has been negative for the Philippines. In a Facebook post, the head of the lower house explained his thoughts and rationale on the matter.
Speaker Cayetnao began his arguments by citing the cmmonly known Filipino expression “kapit sa patalim”. The simple phrase captures the extreme need which can drive many people to make incredible unfavorable agreements just to survive – specifically, grabbing on o a knife just to keep from falling.
He then discusses how the termination of the VFA is a criticism of the unequal treatment the Philippines has received from the United States Government, but not an attack on the relationship between the Filipino and American people.
“We highly value both our friendship with the American people, and our relationship with the United States Government. But the two are not the same.
“With the American people we have shared values. We believe in freedom, democracy, and the right to self determination. We have shared history. We have fought wars both against each other, and side-by-side as comrades in arms. Millions of our kababayans now call America their home, and everyday help build the the American Dream that inspires so many of us with visions of hope, opportunity, and freedom.
“Yet we were also colonized and denied the freedom that we are fighting for by the American Government because of their economic interest disguised in what they then claimed as ‘benevolence,'” Speaker Cayetano wrote.
He continued to say that our longstanding relationship and reputation as “America’s boy” in Asia is certainly important, especially to our own identity, it should not be the sole basis to keep an agreement which is damaging to our country. Actually, Speake rCayetano’s phrasing was gentle – the used to call us their little drown brothers in the Pacific. It was a derogatory term that goes to the heart of our problematic bilateral relations – we will never be equal to them. We will always be little. We will never just be brothers.
And Speaker Cayetano acknowledges this, noting the multiple failures of the US against the Philippines, not just through the VFA but by failing to recognize our independence.
In the end, isn’t the US Senate’s gross overstepping on the matter of detained Senator Leila de Lima an attack on our sovereignty? Doesn’t this show that they still think we need them to hold our hand into countryhood.
“While we acknowledge the benefits of being in the strong protective embrace of America’s armies, these changing times show that those protective arms are not so protective when the US Interest clashes with ours. President Duterte is right in calling for our own armed forces to grow and develop. Should we not take on the responsibility of defending our own nation and our people? To expand horizons and benefit from homegrown resources as well as the friendship of many other military powers – some old, others – friends to the Philippines all,” wrote Speaker Cayetano.
After all, the VFA is just one symptom of a very large problem: we have inherited a problematic relationship wit the United States. President Duterte has seen it from the beginning, which is why he was distanced our nation from the US. He’s too smart to fall into the dumb narrative of the Good America, protector of all that is free and bright. As a sovereign country, we have no obligation to buy into the national narrative of another. He understands that the US, despite their military prowess, is just another country – a state that we are equal to.
“From day one, the President has been talking about an uneven relationship. About shabby treatment. About their interest always being more important than the Filipino People’s interests. To the critics, if we cannot find fault with the United States Government for always putting America first, then why take it against the President of the Philippines for taking a stand for his country and people?” Speaker Cayetano concluded.
Read his full post below: