FILIPINOS have spoken out against American military expansion plans in their country following a top US defence official’s visit to the South-East Asian country this week.
“That is not part of our national interest. Our national interest is to become an economically prosperous country. And we can only do that if we can have peace in the country and peace in the region,” said Anna Malindog-Uy, vice-president of the Manila-based think tank Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute.
She warned that the United States is seeking to widen its military presence in the Philippines and expand access to the country’s military facilities.
On Thursday, protesters gathered outside the military headquarters in the Philippine capital, where US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Philippine counterpart, Carlito Galvez, calling for an end to the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, a military agreement between Washington and Manila allowing US access to Philippine military bases.
“They would want to use my country to preserve their hegemony in Asia,” the scholar on international relations said, urging her government to “exercise extreme caution and prudence”.
“Our country and our survival as a nation will be threatened to a greater extent. It’s not for the Philippines,” Malindog-Uy said. “It’s more for American military activities.” — Xinhua