Youth and the Philippines’ Sovereignty and National Patrimony
Juno Marteen S. Vegas
A Speech Delivered on the State of the Youth Address
Finster Auditorium, Ateneo De Davao University
July 26, 2014
To the President of Ateneo de Davao University, Rev. Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ,
To the Administration, faculty and staff of this institution,
To our distinguished visitors and guests from various groups and organizations representing different sectors of the society,
To the hope of our Fatherland, the Youth,
To every privileged young person here in attendance,
And to the millions of our peers and comrades out there, who share the same sentiments with us,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Progressive greetings of peace and youthful exuberance to one and all!
Gone were the days when the Youth have been silent, even gagged, by the culture of indifference with regards to pressing social issues of today, particularly in the discourse of national sovereignty and patrimony. The contemporary Filipino Youth of today are no longer blinded and unaided by the prevalence of oppressive structures that continually affect the lives of not only the common Filipino populace at large but specially and directly the youth. Our ears have heard enough of the rhetorical non-sense. Our eyes have seen so much of the theatrical stage plays that all try to deceive our consciousness of what reality is by gloriously portraying the Philippine Youth situation.
It’s very clear to in the minds and hearts of the youth that nationalism and patrimony mean serving our own personal interest first and foremost. This is concerting our own efforts, potential and resources for our ultimate benefit. It’s has to be inviolable and non-negotiable. It means valuing the country as our own, and never to allow foreign superpowers to lavishly intervene.
This is not the case under the US-Aquino regime.
We, together with the rest of society have endured for so long. It is quite a shame how the Aquino Administration would self-servingly try to praise itself. But we know for a fact that his performance, particularly in his 4thyear in the presidency was a total failure. Worse, his joyous speeches would seem to undermine the critical scrutinizing capabilities of the Filipino Youth, as if we are dumb and numb to understand.
Now, more than ever, we, the youth as inherently intellectual national patriots, proudly and conclusively assert that the Aquino Administration continually betrays, bastardizes and surrenders the entire Philippines to the whims of the Imperialist U.S. Thus, if today we are faced with uncertainties about to whose interest our government truly serves, then the future of the Youth may have just been sold out by this futile, reactionary government.
The most recent betrayal of the Youth’s future is the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement last April 28, 2014 between the Department of Foreign Affair Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, representing the Government of the Philippines and Phillip Goldberg of the U.S. Defense representing the United States of America. Amazingly, the signing was timed in the state visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Manila, Philippines. Otherwise known as the EDCA, the 10-paged agreement envisions the advancement of the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty along with other treaties in history. It is notable that while the Constitution guarantees it, the Legislative and Judiciary were unable to conduct its checks and balances function for EDCA.
Like an iron bullet packaged in a sweet candy, it may appear as bilaterally beneficial to the contracting parties. However, the youth deems EDCA as a War Magnet, detrimental to the Philippines. We are definitely on the losing end of this Agreement.
It does not a mind like Einstein, nor a brilliant Political Science Major to realize that EDCA is a slap in the face of the Youth. In essence, it effectively implies that the Aquino Administration values more military and defense over education and social services. It breeds a mindset of subservience towards the colonial rule of foreign powers such as the United States. EDCA is a concrete manifestation of national submission to the Imperialist U.S. and its dictates in the internal affairs of our society. Therefore, EDCA grants the U.S. the tight hold of the Youth’s dreams of a better tomorrow.
Let us dwell in the salient points of EDCA and further analyze the evils of this Agreement using the radical lens of a patriotic youth. Subsequently we will be able to prove why it is principally against the youth.
First, before anything else, is the term of existence of the EDCA. It is stipulated that it shall have an initial term of 10 years. However, parties may agree to extend its duration automatically if deemed necessary. In essence, the Agreement therefore, shall live as long as US sees that it can capitalize on the Philippines. Given this scenario, the youth will have to endure the hell of EDCA until forever, probably beyond our lifetimes.
Second, EDCA legitimizes the entry of U.S. Troops in the Philippines. The mere presence of foreign hostile entities could spell disaster within our nation. Increased militarization on country sides and even in urban areas have no less than catastrophic effects. Strengthening military bases and establishment of new ones in Agreed Locations would mean imposing military dominance all across the archipelago. The promise of inter-operability and capacity-building towards modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are with the trade off of compromising the peaceful nights and sound sleeps of the Youth.
Third, EDCA’s thrust of mutuality of benefits is only a dream that we cannot be assured of. The agreement is clearly onerous in the part of the Philippines since we are giving more and receiving less, if not nothing at all in return. The false hopes of maritime security and domain awareness are merely nightmares that the Philippines would want to get out of, if one understands the hidden agenda of the United States. As a strategic ally in the Pacific, U.S. places us into a sand funnel by blatantly capitalizing on the Philippines’ key location as part of its Trans-pacific Pivot and Positioning. Thus, we are merely instruments of the global power play devised by the U.S. The youth analyzes this scheme as a sacrificial act that necessitates a burdensome role at the expense of our National Sovereignty. Therefore, it is not only the current Philippines that we lose in this gamble, but rather it is the future of our Youth that is at stake.
Furthermore, it is to be emphasized how the agreement even glamorizes American soldiers as heroes and liberators. The contemporary youth knows, however, that it is completely false. EDCA warrants unlimited access and flexible positioning of the U.S. forces and subcontractors within Philippine territory. They are even immune against Philippine laws and jurisdiction. The proliferation of numerous Human Rights Violations and the degradation of women dignity in prostitution are subtle reminders of the inhumane tendencies of American soldiers. The youth remembers the case of Nicole, who until now wasn’t served justice when Corporal Daniel Smith was able to leave the country scotch-free. The youth does not forget the thousands of Amboys in Subic and Clark who lived through childhood without a known father. Not to mention the ill effects of chemical wastes and gunpowder residues that endangers the locale’s health, sanitation and well-being. These and many more are evidences of the horrors that the Youth will have to face the moment U.S. troops gain control over our land.
Zooming in deeper in the nitty-gritty’s of the EDCA, it is stipulated that US troops shall operate without rental and similar costs in the Agrees Locations. US forces have the unimpeded access to the Agreed Locations for all matters including the training, transit, support and related activities, prepositioning of equipments, supplies and other materials, usage and maintenance.
Moreover, U.S. are granted exclusive rights to conduct operations that requires water, electricity and other public utilities, with rates no less favorable to the AFP, less charges for taxes and similar fees which are paid for by in the account of the Philippines. Furthermore, U.S. troops are granted authority to employ uninterrupted radio spectrum to operate its own telecommunication systems, free of charge and costs to the U.S.
Without a doubt, EDCA is a one-sided deal. It is something to be frowned upon, even disowned and is a happily regrettable circumstance in the youth’s perspective.
Fellow youth, if the Aquino government was more than willing to give such benefits to U.S. and its forces and troops, why in the world is he not as generous to our felt needs and interests? He consciously declares his being master in the art of puppetry, as if the powerful U.S. holds all the strings to manipulate the Philippines upfront. Aquino wasn’t just signing for contracts’ sake, but he was signing the death note for the youth. While the American Imperialists was all smiles for EDCA, the youth is desperately grasping for its breath, with tears and lost hopes.
Was Aquino not even aware of how he broke the promising future of the Philippine sovereign nation? Was he not thinking that in every grain of gunpowder shredded in a bullet fired, a peso worth of a Mongol Pencil and elementary textbooks was lost in thin air? Was he not thinking that in every dollar spent for the construction of new state-of-the-art U.S. military base, a two-story classroom to accommodate struggling pupils in Mindanao who otherwise study under the shades of an Acacia tree would have been constructed? Was he not aware that for every multi-million Balikatan exercise, a thousand or so school teachers would have compensated or at least hired?
What the Youth needs now are textbooks, chair, blackboards, school supplies, classrooms, jeepney fares, and baon if not a healthy breakast; the Youth are disgusted with guns, armaments, artillery, weapons, warships, high-powered rifles, and bunkers.
Fellow youth, it is a shame how PNOY is an Atenean, but his concept of being “men and women for others” is that of being a trained dog of the United State of America. EDCA is only one of the few faces of the prevailing colonial and anti-Filipino policies of the current administration in its dreadful display of National Sovereignty.
Nevertheless, even if forgotten and ignored, the fire within every nationalistic youth continues to set ablaze. The strides of the times call to be critical and progressive in redefining the role of the youth as defenders of national sovereignty and patrimony. In his upcoming speech in the 5th State of the Nation Address, expect a sugar-coated version of the real situation. Regardless, the youth of today, completely understands the problem and it knows the solution. The youth knows that he is not only a part of the solution, but rather that he is the solution himself.
In conclusion, if the youth were to finally grade PNOY’s performance like an exam so far, particularly on the issue of national sovereignty based in the criteria of its truest meaning and form, his rating would be a Zero. A resounding Zero.