Makabayan solon warns vs EDCA expansion, says PH must protect sovereignty

Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro on Saturday, Feb. 4, warned against the planned expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and called on Filipinos to guard the country’s freedom and sovereignty against foreign excursions.

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro delivers her speech during the commemoration of the 124th anniversary of the start of the Philippine-American war on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo from ACT Teachers Party-list)

In her message for the 124th anniversary of the start of the Philippine-American war, the lawmaker criticized the government’s recent announcement that four additional sites will be added under the pact that was forged in 2014 to allow United States (US) troops to temporarily stay and operate within five Philippine bases.

“Bilang mga Pilipino tungkulin po natin na i-uphold ang Konstitusyon at huwag natin isuko ang soberanya ng Pilipinas (As Filipinos, we have a duty to uphold the Constitution and never give up the sovereignty of the Philippines),” she wrote, stressing how Filipino heroes fought for the country’s freedom.

“Huwag nating isuko ang ating soberanya sa pangako ng (Let us not sacrifice our sovereignty on the promise that they are here for) ‘mutual defense’ at pakunwaring ‘bisita’ lamang sila, dahil mas mabigat ang pinsala at disbentahe sa ating mamamayan kumpara sa ganansya. Wakasan na natin ang kanilang panghihimasok sa ating sariling bayan at huwag na tayong magpagamit bilang mga tauhan sa kanilang mga digmaan (and make-believe visit, because the damage and disadvantage to our people are greater than the benefits. Let us end their excursion into our country and let us not allow ourselves to be used as pawns of their war),” Castro added.

READ: PH gives US troops access to more military bases

Aside from the planned expansion of EDCA, she also warned against the possibility of the Philippines being used as a testing ground for Washington’s nuclear weapons based on the 123 agreements brandished by US Vice President Kamala Harris on what she called “civil” nuclear cooperation.

A part of the progressive Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, the lawmaker also lambasted two other treaties entered into by the Philippines with the US.

“Wala mang pormal na (There may be no formal) US bases ngunit di maitatangging may presenya ang mga (but it cannot be denied that the) US armed forces sa ating bansa—at hindi sila umaalis (have presence in out country—and they don’t leave),” she said.

She lamented how the current situation in the Philippines would have angered the country’s heroes like General Antonio Luna because the invaders have not left the country.

“Dapat nating ipaglaban ang ating pambansang kalayaan, soberanya, at ang pagpapaalis ng mga Amerikano at imperyalistang mananakop (We need to fight for our freedom, sovereignty, and remove the Americans and the imperialist invaders),” Castro said.

“Dapat nating tapusin ang pananakop ng mga dayuhan sa ating bansa, hindi man sa porma ng pisikal na okupasyon ngunit nagpapatuloy pa rin ang kanilang impluwensiya kung paano natin patatakbuhin ang ating sariling bayan (We need to end foreign invasion in our country, maybe not a physical occupation but they continue to influence how we run our own country),” she added.