Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday, Sept. 16 called on Filipinos to recall the bravery exhibited by the 12 members of the Senate who voted no to the retention of the United States (US) bases in the Philippines in 1991.
Pangilinan said he believes this bravery can be replicated by the whole Filipino community as it stands against the present day challenge of China’s continuing attempts to undermine Philippine’s rights and sovereignty.
It was in September 16, the senator recalled that the 12 senators—dubbed the “Magnificent 12”—voted against the proposed RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace that would have given Washington 10 more years to stay at the Subic Naval Base, which is known to be the largest US military naval base in Asia.
“Ginugunita natin ang September 16 bilang panalo ng bayan na merong paggalang sa sarili, political will at tapang na itulak ang ating mga karapatan, ang ating kasarinlan, ang ating interes bilang isang Republika (We commemorate September 16 as a day of victory for the nation that recognizes its political will and bravery to push for its rights, its sovereignty and its interest as a Republic),” Pangilinan said in a virtual forum on the 30th Anniversary of the Senate vote ending the PH-US Bases Treaty.
“Ngayon, tayo bilang isang bansa ay nakakaharap sa mga hamon sa ating pagiging isang Republika. Sa kabila ng ating panalo sa international arbitral tribunal, mukhang mas gusto ng mga namumuno ngayon na maging (Now as a nation, we are facing another challenge as a Republic. Despite our victory in the international arbitral tribunal, it seems our leaders prefer that we become a) ‘Province of China’,” Pangilinan lamented.
“Pero, sa pinakita ng mga nauna sa atin, kaya natin ang mga hamong ito. Kailangan lang ng pagkakaisa, kinakailangan lang mangibabaw ang ating pagkakaisa at ating pagtugon at paninindigan (But as they have shown to us before, we can overcome this challenge. We only need to be united, to respond to the call and to persist),” he stressed.
The 12 former senators who voted against the US-PH Bases Treaty were Agapito "Butz" Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr, Sotero Laurel II, Ernesto Maceda Jr, Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Rene Saguisag, Jovito Salonga, Wigberto Tañada, Victor Ziga, and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Pangilinan recalled that even though it cost Salonga the Senate Presidency, he stood firm with the belief that voting to remove any vestiges of American colonialism is more important than any position in government.
“We broke the chains of colonialism in our country in that regard, and move towards genuine sovereignty,” the lawmaker stressed.
“Pero pag-alis ng mga base militar, hindi gumuho ang ating ekonomiya. Sabi kasi ng iba, nakakatakot, baka daw bumagsak ang ekonomiya pagka wala na ang base-militar. Hindi tayo sinakop ng mga komunista. Hindi umalis ang mga mamumuhunan (When the US military bases left, our economy did not crumble. Others were afraid that our economy will collapse if the US bases is removed. We were not occupied by the communist. Investors also did not leave the Philippines),” he pointed out.
“Sa totoo lang, lalo pang nagkaroon ng dagdag na maayos na trabaho dito sa mga base-militar sa Clark at sa Subic. Naging mas maunlad in terms of ‘yung benepisyo sa mga komunidad.
(Instead, it even brought more decent employment opportunities especially in Clark and Subic. There were also more benefits to the community),” he stressed.