Just New Warrior + [Visiting Forces Agreement]

Miriam Defensor Santiago

Transcript of Interview - 29 September 2009

On the recent incident of a landmine explosion in Sulu resulting to the death of both US and Filipino troops

Why are they there? American troops should stay out of conflict areas. The problem is they go to combat or conflict areas.

What is its impact on the VFA resolution?

It confirms the suspicion of the university students and the leftists that these Americans are all actually engaging in warfare. War or battle is no longer defined today in armed forces manuals as actual shooting between two persons. War now includes unconventional warfare; so that is the basis of the contention that they are engaging, if not in shooting wars, at least in unconventional warfare.

For me, this constitutes additional evidence that they are already engaged in activities that have not been contemplated by the VFA at all.

What if the US troops retaliate?

They would have to start a war against the Philippines first. We will find ourselves in a state of war with the United States if we do that.

Are you concerned of the implications of the incident?

Yes. I already raised that in my sponsorship speech when I was sponsoring the VFA resolution. How come there are dead Americans in combat areas if it is true that they are not engaged in combat? And we have this suspicion that all these deaths are not necessarily reported in the media because it is kept as a secret.

Why were there in an area where there are landmines? We will necessarily define that area therefore as a conflict area at the very least.

But what can you say about the US troops’ involvement in the rescue operations for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy?

As I’ve said we welcome this. No one in his right mind would reject this offer of humanitarian assistance. But I humbly contend that this is all part of their psy-ops (psychological operations). They gather intelligence by this means. So it is not always a one-way street. We may be benefiting as a people, but they are benefiting as well.

Wouldn’t the incident drag the US troops into the conflict?

They already were when they insisted on the VFA. You must remember that when the Philippine government became party to the VFA, the United States kept on telling that it would stop military aid and other forms of economic and financial aid if we did not sign the VFA.

Their purpose was not to train Filipinos. Their purpose is to serve their own national agenda which is perfectly natural in international relations. There are those of us who are against the VFA now because after ten years we did not receive what we were hoping we would get in terms of military assistance.

On the US Embassy’s statement that the US troops were there because they were building schools in this particular incident

…And the Filipinos are so stupid as to plant landmines in area for a school where most of their children would go?

On the status of the VFA resolution

Immediately after the Senate approved it, I amended the resolution as suggested by one senator, and sent unofficial copies to the offices concerned like the DFA, the MalacaƱang VFA Commission, and the US Ambassador.