'Playing with Filipino lives': Progressive groups denounce PH-Japan negotiations

Progressive groups condemned the Philippine government in its negotiations with Japan to establish the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between the two countries which gives the Japanese troops permission to join war games in the Philippines together with the US and Australia.

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Women's group GABRIELA, in a statement on Monday, Nov. 6, condemned Senate President Migs Zubiri in his support for the Japan-Philippines agreement.

This came after Zubiri gave assurance that the RAA would not be abused believing that the Japanese soldiers were "disciplined." 

"Disiplinado ba ang tawag sa panggagahasa ng mahigit 1,000 na 'comfort women' dito sa Pilipinas? (Is it really considered disciplined to sexually abuse 1,000 "comfort women" in the Philippines)," said Clarice Palce, GABRIELA's Secretary-General.

Palce noted that the Japanese army whom the administration is about to welcome is "not different" from the Japanese army who "built a comfort station and raped thousands of women" in time of World War II in the Philippines and other countries.

"Neither ever acknowledged and apologized for the murders, mass rapes, and other atrocities against Filipino women, Yan ba ang disiplinado?

(Neither ever acknowledged and apologized for the murders, mass rapes, and other atrocities against Filipino women, is that what you call disciplined?)," Palce said.

Moreover, GABRIELA criticized Zuburi for saying that there were only two major incidents of law violation made by the American troops since the Philippines had its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States in the 1990s.

"It is also unacceptable for Sen. Pres. Zubiri to say 'only two women' were abused under the VFA," Palce said.

"Maski isa, dalawa o higit pa, ang pang-aabuso sa kababaihan ay malaking kasalanan (Even one, two or more, the abuses towards women are grave mistakes)," she added.

'Playing with Filipino lives'

Youth group Anakbayan also resisted the announcement of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on their agreement to form the RAA.

The group said in its statement on Nov. 4 that it was "so disgusting" to permit the Japanese troops to enter the country pertaining also to the "abuses and injustices" suffered by the "comfort women" in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation.

The group also said that the Marcos administration is "playing with the Filipino lives."

"Marcos Jr. has willingly played into the hands of the US in a bid to heighten tensions in the West Philippine Sea by allowing Japan to use Filipino territory and resources to get ready for a war between China and the US," the group said.

"We maintain that it is not collaboration with imperialists like the US and Japan that will protect us, but rather the implementation of a truly independent foreign policy that is free from all unequal treaties and agreements such as this," the group added. (Lizst Torres Abello)