August 24, 1998

We, the women of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women remain steadfast in our opposition against the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Allowing foreign military personnel armed with high-powered weapons and technologically advance vessels to freely enter our national territory through 22 ports all over the country is an outright and blatant violation of Philippine sovereignty. President Joseph Estrada and his administration are virtually committing treason by peddling VFA. This agreement is an affront to the very core of our dignity as citizens of this country.

As the neo-liberal paradigm under the slogan of "globalization" proves fatal to economies of most Asian countries, US grows more and more desperate to maintain its dominion over the Asia Pacific region. The presence of US military in the Philippines, a geographically strategic country in terms of access to other Asian nations, ensures US imperialist's supremacy in this region. VFA protects not our national security. It aims to protect their economic interests against any threat including the Filipino people's clamor for genuine development, a struggle that runs counter against their greed.

As women, we also strongly oppose VFA and the exploitation and abuse of women and children it will exacerbate. A vulgar increase in the number of prostituted women and children as a result of US military presence in the country is not a peripheral issue. Prostitution is not merely a social cost. For the growth of the sex industry is a manifestation of a bankrupt export-oriented import-dependent and debt-driven economy, which has turned to the selling of women and children's bodies to survive.

We have seen this from the experience of Angeles City and Olongapo City whose economies depended heavily on the "rest and recreation" industry. With the VFA, such situation will be duplicated 22 times all over the archipelago. The Philippines will be transformed to a country of "rest and recreation" where the selling of women and children will be done on full scale.

Women militantly took part in the people's struggle to expel US Military Bases in the Philippines. With the pending ratification of VFA, a far worse agreement than US-RP Military Bases Agreement in 1991, we are faced with the same challenge.

GABRIELA calls on the Filipino women to unite against an agreement that undermines our national sovereignty and that which gravely imperils our women and children. We call on the Filipino women to strongly and militantly oppose VFA.