Portland Organizations Oppose U.S. Military and Economic Creep on the Asia Pacific

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2014
Contacts: Elizabeth Swager, Director, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign &
Rossella De Leon, Secretary General, Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
info@oregonfairtrade.org, portlandchrp@gmail.com, 503-736-9777, 503-915-7283

Portland Organizations Oppose U.S. Military and Economic Creep on the Asia Pacific
Administration Attempts to Further Efforts on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and
Military Expansion in the Philippines and Asia Pacific

As President Obama embarks on his April 23-29 Asia Pacific tour, the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (ORFTC) and Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) stand together to vehemently oppose the U.S. government’s rampant militarism in the region and its economic hegemony through the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines to advance the United States’ long-term economic and military interests in the region.

“We oppose further militarization in the Philippines because history has shown over and over again that the U.S. military presence catalyze sexual assaults against Filipino women and children, abandonment of Filipino-American or “Amerasian” children, violence against human rights defenders, and environmental destruction as in the case when the U.S. left toxic waste in former U.S. bases Clark and Subic,” said Rossella De Leon, Secretary General of PCHRP.

The U.S. Asia Pacific Pivot aims to strengthen its military bases and consolidate its geopolitical alliances in the Asia Pacific with plans of moving 60% of the U.S. Navy fleet to Asia by 2020; hence, Obama’s fast-tracked plans to sign a new military defense agreement with the Philippines disguised as the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” (EDCA). Filipinos and allies in Portland, along with progressive individuals and organizations all over the world, have expressed concerns that EDCA violates the Philippine constitution which states that base agreements must go through the parliamentary process. The constitutional authority of the parliament was violated by both governments when they negotiated the terms of the agreement in secret, locking out lawmakers and the public. EDCA would allow the U.S. to set up its own exclusive military facilities within Philippine bases and to operate anywhere in the Philippines under the guise of “humanitarian assistance,” i.e., the most recent deployment of U.S. Seventh Fleet to supposedly provide disaster relief to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Another major goal for the President’s trip to the region is to attempt to drum up support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which after four years of negotiations, face growing U.S. congressional and public opposition in most TPP countries throughout the Pacific Rim.

Despite attempt to keep negotiations out of the public eye, leaks of TPP documents have fueled strong criticisms in many TPP countries including the Philippines. Amongst the top concerns from civil society groups are: enforceable labor and environmental standards, access to affordable medicine, protecting family farms, food sovereignty, and more.

While Japan and Malaysia are currently negotiating the TPP, both South Korea and the Philippines have expressed interest in joining the trade talks. In fact, Philippine officials have already taken steps to pave the way to join trade talks on the TPP despite its conflict with the Philippine Constitution that limits foreign ownership in some industries to 40 percent.

“The TPP would not only require the Philippines to change their Constitution to allow foreign corporations access to local markets, the TPP will elevate the status of investors to be equal to that of governments,” stated Elizabeth Swager, Director of ORFTC. “Leaked chapters of the TPP have revealed language which grants vast powers to investors by giving foreign corporations the right to sue governments when their investment interests are limited by laws to protect the environment or public health. This is an attack on national sovereignty and democracy itself.”

One major obstacle that keeps the TPP from moving forward is the deadlock between the U.S. and Japan over a score of issues including sensitive market access in agriculture and automobiles. If talks between President Obama and Prime Minister Shanzo Abe reach a breakthrough, other TPP nations may be more willing to consider high-stakes tradeoffs such as U.S. proposals in the TPP: to extend the life of drug patents, allow for investor-state dispute settlements, and limit financial regulations.

The Administration had also hoped to secure trade authority from Congress through enacting Fast Track legislation, which would limit Congressional debate and forbid amendments to free trade agreements including the TPP. Growing opposition to the TPP resulted in an introduction of a Fast Track bill in January that was dead on arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Philippines is sovereign on paper, but not in practice. The Filipino people have been organizing and mobilizing against the gross violation of Philippine sovereignty by the U.S. for over a hundred years now. Our struggle for genuine freedom must advance and intensify, now more than ever,” De Leon further stated. ORFTC and PCHRP support the people of the Philippines and Asia Pacific in their continuous fight for self-determination, peace, and justice. These progressive Oregon-based organizations oppose the U.S. government’s Asia Pacific pivot and neoliberal economic agenda through the TPP. ORFTC and PCHRP demand the U.S. government to bring its troops back home and spend its military dollars on jobs and education for the American people, not on war and plunder in the Asia Pacific!

Stop the TPP and Fast Track!

Call your Member of Congress now and urge them to oppose any new Fast Track legislation and the TPP. We need trade policy that benefits people and the environment over corporate profits!

Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement and the new military access agreement!

Send U.S. troops back home! U.S. troops out of the Philippines and the Asia Pacific!

Money for jobs and education! Not for war and occupation!

Self-determination for all! Uphold Philippines’ sovereignty!

Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (ORFTC) is a statewide grassroots organization committed to advocating for fair trade policy that prioritizes quality jobs, public health, and the environment in communities across the state and across the world. ORFTC’s affiliate organizations represent over 250,000 Oregonians.

Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) is an organization composed of Filipino and Filipino American immigrant youth, students, professionals, workers, and allies working together in solidarity to advance the national democratic movement of the Philippines in the U.S. through education, leadership development, and political action. PCHRP is a member organization of Bayan USA, an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth, which serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S.


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