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Groups condemn US-Japan-PH trilateral summit

On April 11, 2024 Marcos Jr. joined US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in the first trilateral summit in Washington. 

Over 100 Filipino-American activists staged protests outside the White House in Washington D.C. against the recent trilateral meeting. The protests, led by BAYAN USA, were mounted simultaneously in cities including Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, to denounce what the activists describe as President Biden’s detrimental “ironclad alliance” with the Philippines.

In the Philippines, national-democratic groups protested in front of the US embassy to denounce the “trilateral summit”. This meeting is held within the US framework of expanding its presence in the first-island chain, which includes the Philippines and Japan, under the veil of “security” and “freedom in the South China Sea” to promote “maritime peace” according to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) which led the action.

Antonio Tinio, spokesperson of Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1NAS) condemned the “Joint Vision Statement” released by the summit, which reaffirmed the commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“We reject the very use, imposition, and propagation by the US of the so-called ‘Indo-Pacific’ as the all-encompassing framework by which the numerous countries in Asia are supposed to define their relationships with each other,” Tinio said. “The ‘Indo-Pacific’ is a relatively new-fangled construct adopted by the US to maintain itself as the dominant superpower…[and] is no different from China’s bogus Nine-Dash Line, a hegemonic construct imposed on geography by military might.”

Meanwhile, BAYAN secretary-general Raymond Palatino voiced opposition to what is being termed the “Luzon Corridor,” which is perceived as an extension of EDCA. This plan involves turning Luzon into a hub for foreign military operations, which according to the group, compromises Philippine sovereignty and poses risks to local communities.

“The unveiling of the ‘Luzon Corridor’ during the trilateral summit signals the intensified foreign military buildup in the island,” Palatino warned. “It practically turns the country’s biggest island into an EDCA site servicing thousands of foreign troops at any given time. It is purported to be an economic zone but it is linked to the installation of EDCA sites and the repurposing of Subic and Clark into military hubs for joint exercises with foreign troops,” he explained.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines International Office (NDFP IO) criticized Marcos Jr. for “willingly offering the Philippine archipelago to serve as a ‘theater of war’ by allowing the US to position its military arsenal on land, sea, and air.”  “The Philippines’ strategic location allows the US to constrict regional waterways and position readily deployable military air power in close proximity to China,” the NDFP IO added.

The NDFP IO stated that “Marcos Jr. seeks to further increase US military footprint in Philippine soil while talks are underway with Japan for a reciprocal access agreement that will allow Japanese military presence in the country.” The statement also referred to the Balikatan war exercises which aims to hold its biggest ever operations this April with at least 16,000 troops expected to participate.

“Marcos Jr. must be held accountable for his reprehensible sell-out of Philippine sovereignty and his blatant disregard for the lives of the Filipino masses,” the NDFP IO concluded.