Pia’s pro-US bases stand annoys militants
NEWLY crowned Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach’s support for American bases in the Philippines caused an uproar among activist groups but some lawmakers think that they should just leave the beauty queen alone and respect her opinion.
During the question-and-answer portion for the top five finalists in the Miss Universe 2015 pageant, Wurtzbach was asked: “Do you think the US should have a military base in the Philippines?”
Wurtzbach answered, “I think we’re very welcoming to the Americans, and I don’t see any problem with that at all.
“I think that the United States and the Philippines [have] always had a good relationship with each other. We were colonized by the Americans and we have their culture in our traditions even up to this day.”
In a tweet, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said: “I don’t think the question was even fair. Saying “no” to US troops in front of a US crowd would sink her chances.
Reyes felt that the US bases question was “calculated” to get an affirmative response from Wurtzbach.
“Saying ‘no’ to US troops, in front of a predominantly American crowd, would likely harm her chances of winning. Perhaps she wasn’t prepared to take that risk. She went with the ‘safe’ and ‘popular’ answer, at least for the home crowd and the organizers which included Donald Trump,” Reyes said in a blog explaining his adverse reaction to Wurtzbach’s reply.
Bayan has been leading calls to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed last year, allowing the United States to put up facilities in military bases in the country.
Bayan is also asking for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement, under fire of late for being the basis for not jailing US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton in a Philippine penitentiary despite being found guilty of killing transgender Filipino woman Jennifer Laude.
Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Wurtzbach’s views “contradict” her stand on her concern for humanity, specifically her support for raising HIV-AIDS awareness globally (which was the question for her in the final three Q&A portion).
“We hope she will have a change of mind and heart on this issue by learning the history of our nation under US colonial rule,” De Jesus said.
“Gabriela Women’s Party is encouraging Wurtzbach to look into the case of the brutal killing of Jennifer Laude and other criminal abuses of the US military in the Philippines and other countries and be a powerful voice to seek justice for the victims,” De Jesus said in a statement.
Reyes was also hopeful that Wurtzbach’s reply was not her final answer and that she would keep an open mind. “I hope she would find time in the future to sit down with the victims of abuses by US troops, many of whom are women,” he said.
But some lawmakers think that the militant lawmakers shouldn’t focus too much on Wurtzbach’s stand on the US bases.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano said: “What’s wrong if she’s in favor of having US bases in the country? She’s not a politician anyway and maybe she feels protected with the Americans beside her.”
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said Wurtzbach shouldn’t mind critics of her stand on US bases because they were just a bunch of “killjoys.”
“It’s her opinion and not every Filipino agrees with the opinion of the militants opposed to the US bases. She should be commended for coming up with her honest opinion and doing it with beauty, grace and confidence,” Treñas said. With a report from Jaymee T. Gamil
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