This is just another example of how the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) directly violates the sovereignty and independence of the Philippines. It shows who really is in control of the Philippines and that even in their own country, Filipinos are subordinate to foreigners (particularly, U.S. imperialists).
What were the U.S. soldiers trying to hide? Why are they scared of journalists doing their job? It’s not like they were in a hidden bunker deep underground, this was outside and visible to the public.
We need more journalists to hold people accountable and to defend their right to report the truth. The VFA just shot itself in the foot.
By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 09:28:00 12/21/2010
MANILA, Philippines—The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Tuesday slammed the alleged ill treatment of American soldiers to Zamboanga City-based journalists who were covering the visit of retired general Edilberto Adan of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission. In a statement, the NUJP said a television reporter in Zamboanga was ordered by one of six US soldiers guarding the headquarters of the United States military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines inside the Western Mindanao Command to stop taking footages of the event.
NUJP director and Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Julie Alipala, who is based in Zamboanga, said journalists were at Westmincom to cover Adan’s visit, which was in line with Section 3c of Executive Order 199 mandating the VFA Commission to monitor the activities of foreign military and civilian personnel covered by the defense agreement. Alipala quoted the reporter who was told by the soldier that: “I am ordering you not to take footages.”
When one of the reporters asked what the basis for the order was, the American replied: “I don’t understand you but don’t make me take your camera. When sought for clarification over the incident with the US soldiers, Westmincom spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang clarified to Alipala that journalists were in a secure facility “and persons going there need clearance” to shoot video and other images.
But Alipala said the news crew was taking footage outside the task force headquarters. “Even granting Cabangbang’s explanation, we maintain that foreigners still have absolutely no authority to tell Filipinos what we can or cannot do in our own country, much less threaten to confiscate their property. If they had any issue, they should have conveyed it to their local counterparts who could then have relayed these concerns to the journalists concerned,” the NUJP said.
The NUJP added that the task force headquarters was still Philippine territory and not American territory. “We believe that ultimate authority over the facility resides in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government, unless they have conceded this authority to what would then essentially be foreign occupiers,” the group added.