For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Reference: Katrina Abarcar, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), email: email@example.com
Cynthia McKinney, Noam Chomsky, US Vets & Others Join in Open Letter Calling for Termination of Visiting Forces Agreement
Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, political commentator and author Noam Chomsky, and US veterans are amongst the signatories of an open letter calling for the abrogation of the US-Republic of the Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the main military agreement that allows for the regular, rotational presence of US military in the Philippines since its enactment in 1999.
The open letter, addressed to Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Barack Obama, is being released on the heels of growing public outcry over the murder of 26-year old Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude by prime suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine. Pemberton is in the Philippines as part of a 4000-US military delegation which recently concluded joint exercises with the Philippine military mandated by the VFA. The letter’s was released one month after Laude’s murder.
The US members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)- a broad network of peace and human rights advocates for the Philippines founded in 2013- initiated the open letter, which quickly gathered support from the likes of McKinney and Chomsky, as well as former Black Panther Party leader Kathleen Cleaver and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
A number of prominent US Veteran organizations have also endorsed the letter, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace San Francisco Chapter.
“Since its enactment in 1999, the Visiting Forces Agreement has served as the foundation for crimes to be committed with impunity by the U.S. military. The Visiting Forces Agreement has shielded the suspects in the U.S. military from facing Philippine authorities, obstructing the justice still being painfully sought by the family of Jennifer Laude and many other families of Filipino victims,” the letter reads.
International scrutiny over the killing and protests have already prompted US Navy officials to cancel port calls to Subic Bay.
“With this letter, the international community, including US veterans and those still in active US military service, is taking a stand for peace and justice for Jennifer Laude and for the Philippines,” states Katrina Abarcar of ICHRP. “Peace and justice cannot be realized under the framework of unequal power relations, which is exactly what the VFA promotes.”