United States converting Subic into a military base — Duterte

Published February 16, 2021, 9:31 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The United States is slowly converting Subic bay back into a military base several years since it was shut down.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (RICHARD MADELO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

The American military presence was revealed by President Duterte while lashing out at Vice President Leni Robredo for supposedly being clueless about foreign affairs including the alleged “many offenses” of the United States against the country.

The sprawling Subic bay was the previous site of the largest US naval installation in the country until 1991 when the Philippine Senate voted to terminate the US bases deal. The coastal area has since been developed into an economic zone and become a popular tourist attraction.

“Hindi mo alam kung mga pangyayari noong una, antecedent or precedent, na may ginagawa itong mga Amerikano, parang — parang ano tingin yata outpost eh  You don’t know about the antecedent or precedent that the Americans are building an apparent outpost),” Duterte told Robredo in a televised address Monday night.

“Ma’am, alam mo ba, ma’am, as a President, do you know that there are so many depots — depot — depots — maraming mga armas dito na nakalagay sa Pilipinas ang Amerika? (Do you know there are so many depots where America has placed many weapons placed in the Philippines?) And do you know that they are slowly converting Subic into an American base? Iyan ang hindi mo alam (You don’t know that),” he added. 

Duterte, who recently asked the US to “pay” if it wanted to keep the visiting forces agreement with the country, said he received the information about the latest US movement from the military. “These are things known to us because I have the reports and I also have the assessments given to me by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Sinasabi nila kung ano talaga (They report the situation), what’s the deal,” he said.

The President also took a swipe at Robredo for being a “pro-American” even though the US was supposedly turning the country into another outpost. 

With the increased US presence in the country, Duterte was worried that the country might be caught in a crossfire in case war break outs over the dispute in the South China Sea. Palawan, he warned, could be the first to be hit if a full-blown conflict erupts.

“Anong binigay ng Amerikano? Gawain lang tayong outpost tapos mag-pro American ka. Pagputok, ang unang tinamaan… Siguro, tanungin kita, kung magsagot ka ngayon: Ang unang matamaan ano kung magka-giyera ang Amerikano pati Philippines? Alam mo? Kung hindi mo alam, sabihin ko sa iyo (What did the Americans give us? It will just turn us into an outpost and then you become pro-American. When war erupts, the first one to be hit will be… I’ll ask you if you can answer: What’s the first place to be hit if the Philippines and America get embroiled into a war? Do you know? I’ll tell you),” he said.

“The meltdown will start in Palawan. It’s the province that’s facing the Spratly and everything there. Kaya hindi mo lang alam, in a worst-case scenario, kung may isang g*** diyan na magpaputok ng isang rocket, gulo na iyan. And the Philippines invariably would be drawn into the vortex of a conflict that is called war,” he added.

Duterte also warned that Robredo’s home region of Bicol will also “melt” in case nuclear war break outs.

“Kung magka-giyera tapos mag-nuclear war, tapos nandito ‘yong armas, nandito diyan sa Subic iyong mga barko ng Amerikano, what do you think will happen to Bicol? It’s too far away, but you know, it will also melt just like what would happen to the rest of the Philippines,” he said.

“It would reduce us into a barren land where you cannot plant anything except way to die — the way to die rather,” he added.

The President also reminded Robredo about her fellow Bicolano the late Senator Victor Ziga, saying he strongly opposed the extension of the US military base agreement. Duterte read aloud a portion of Ziga’s remarks on why he voted to oust the American bases during his address.

“I would address this to the Vice President. Excerpt from the speech of the late Senator Vic Ziga during the Senate voting on the US Bases Treaty on September 16, 1991,” Duterte said.

“He said and I quote: ‘I refuse to ride the crest of this fleeting popularity. I refuse to be deceived by fancy rhetoric and cheap propaganda. I refuse to sacrifice our national interest in exchange for a bundle of vague promises. Rather, Mr. President, I choose to continue to work for what I believe is right and just for our country. I therefore submit my action to the lasting judgement of history with my conscience and firm conviction as my cause. I vote to the non-concurrence and, ‘no’, a conscientious no to the treaty,'” Duterte said.

The President earlier said the United States must give payment if it wanted to continue its presence in the country. Robredo later slammed Duterte’s statement, saying it was a form of extortion.

Annoyed with Robredo’s criticisms, Duterte hit back at the vice president and told her that the President is the sole architect of the country’s foreign affairs under the Constitution. He railed against Robredo for supposedly not knowing the country’s law well despite being a lawyer.

“You should not be opening your mouth while we are negotiating because maraming kasalanan ang Amerika sa atin,” he said.

 
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