Makabayan wants US military planes’ alleged covert flights probed by House
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the House of Representatives Makabayan bloc have called for an investigation into the alleged covert flights conducted by United States (US) military planes, saying that such exercises are not allowed under the 1987 Constitution.
In a statement on Tuesday, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro confirmed that they had filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1117 earlier, asking the House Committee on foreign affairs to investigate the issue in aid of legislation.
Castro and the rest of the Makabayan bloc were referring to a US Air Force C-17 that came from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and landed in Manila and then in Palawan before heading to Yokota Air Base in Fussa City in Japan; and another US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft that landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) last June 26.
These covert flights were questioned by no less than President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos.
“These ‘covert’ flights of US military planes all over the country, conducted without even the knowledge of airport authorities, are deeply troubling. It is clear that the EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] and VFA [Visiting Forces Agreement] have turned the entire Philippines into a de facto US military base, compromising our national sovereignty,” Castro said.
According to Castro, it might be why Chinese ships are seen more often near the West Philippine Sea — because the US’ military presence in the Philippines has been ramped up.
This, the lawmaker said, compromises the country’s sovereignty.
“It is possible that these flights are serving as a catalyst for China’s assertiveness in the area. The continued presence of US military forces in our country only exacerbates tensions and compromises our ability to assert our own sovereignty,” she said.
“We must thoroughly examine the nature and purpose of these flights, as well as the potential consequences they may have on our national security and sovereignty. It is imperative that we take immediate action to protect our country’s interests,” she added.
Senator Marcos on Sunday aired the same sentiments — that the worsening situation over the West Philippine Sea was due to these covert flights.
The US Embassy later clarified that the flights were part of bilateral military exercises and had been authorized by the Department of Foreign Affairs, but clerical errors led to airport authorities being in the dark about these.
This was seconded by the Philippine Air Force, saying that bilateral exercises are the reason for the increased presence of US military aircraft in the country.
Makabayan said Filipinos, as citizens of a sovereign nation, deserve to know the truth behind these flights.
“As an independent and sovereign nation, we should not allow the presence of foreign military and bases in our territory — and worse, freely, actively, and covertly conducting military exercises and/or operations,” the lawmakers said in the resolution.
“These past abuses against the Filipino people, particularly committed by American military forces, are the reason behind the aforementioned Constitutional provisions. They have, in fact, stressed that such forces must never be allowed into our territory without the knowledge of and accountability to Philippine authorities and most especially, the people,” they added.
The House and the said panel would have a chance to discuss the resolution once Congress resumes its session after July 24.