Charter change could mean more US troops in the PHL – Fil-Am activists


NEW YORK — Filipino-American activists here denounced ongoing attempts to change the Philippine Constitution as this may result in increased US military presence in the Philippines and worsen the geopolitical tension in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Michelle Thiele of Gabriela-New York stressed that for US troops presence could put Filipino women at risk given the possibility of increased more gender-based attacks against Filipino women.

Among the victims of US troops in the Philippines were “Nicole” and “Vanessa,” as well as Jennifer Laude who was murdered. Women’s rights groups noted the increased number of women forced into prostitution in areas where there are US forces.

The 1987 Constitution states that foreign military bases, troops, or facilities are not allowed except under a treaty. In the case of the US, the treaty extending its military bases in the Philippines was denied in 1991 with a historic 12-11 vote in the Senate. “After US bases were kicked out, somehow they have managed to return through lopsided military agreements,” she said.

Thiele was among the Filipino-American activists who held a protest action outside the Philippine Consulate in New York. Joining them were members of progressive groups here like Bayan-USA, Malaya, and Migrante-USA.

Just several blocks away from the Philippine Consulate is the United Nations headquarters where hundreds of women’s rights advocates gathered for the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This platform is being led by the UN Women which includes in its agenda concerns on women, peace, and security.

Read: 10 Years of VFA Worsened Abuse of Filipino Women, Children by US Troops — Gabriela
Read: VFA and how perpetrators of murder, gender-based abuses got away with it

Women’s group Gabriela earlier estimated about 50,000 prostituted women who ended up as “rest and recreation” of US soldiers stationed in some areas of Pampanga, a province north of the Philippine capital.

Thiele, for her part, said that “with the US aggression against China, we will just become a pawn, not people. We are just a piece in the puzzle.”

Edz dela Cruz, information and communications officer of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD), said that the situation resonates in the bigger Asia-Pacific region where states are increasingly using military violence “against women and their communities which comes in the form of gender-based violence, militarization, forced evictions and displacement, harassment and persecution and extra-judicial killings.”

“Militarism has been used as a political tool to seize control over resources and the people, with the aim to establish autocratic rule thus undermining democracy,” she added.

Ordinary folk, workers are affected too

Nina Macapinlac of Bayan-USA, said that Filipino progressives in the US are also worried how the charter change can affect the lives of ordinary folk. She said that charter change can also be used to remove term limits, thus perpetuating the Marcos family in power. “Charter change means changing the Philippine Constitution, which the people fought for as part of the mass movement against the Marcos dictatorship,” she said, adding that “every administration has been trying to change the Constitution. But now, something we anticipate is wanting to extend terms limits.”

Labor organizer and vice president for women affairs of Kilusang Mayo Uno Joanne Cesario assailed how lawmakers are fast-tracking the passage of the joint resolution that can pave the way for charter change. This is happening as bills on wage increase remain pending in Congress.

“Mapapanis na ang batas. Mamamatay na ang mga manggagawa,” she quipped during the protest action. (RTS, DAA) (

Share This Post