Charter change, Global issues, Governance

US-PH “Partnership for Growth”: Greater economic intervention

While much of the discussion about the pivot and renewed PH-US relations centers on the military aspect, there is also the equally crucial, if not even more far-reaching, economic dimension of the pivot (Photo from bulatlat.com)

While much of the discussion about the pivot and renewed PH-US relations centers on the military aspect, there is also the equally crucial, if not even more far-reaching, economic dimension of the pivot (Photo from bulatlat.com)

Despite US President Barack Obama’s absence, State Secretary John Kerry’s visit still underlines the increased bilateral engagement between the Philippines and the US. It comes at a time when US foreign policy is increasingly focused on the region under its so-called pivot to Asia Pacific. The visit, which follows a series of high-profile exchange of visits between top Filipino and American Executive and Defense officials since 2010, is controversial amid ongoing talks between Manila and Washington to increase rotational presence of American troops in the country or basing privileges and the still ongoing territorial spat with China.

While much of the discussion about the pivot and renewed PH-US relations centers on the military aspect, there is also the equally crucial, if not even more far-reaching, economic dimension of the pivot. Under the Obama and Aquino presidencies, mechanisms to facilitate further reforms in the economy that promotes US economic interests are steadily being set up through US foreign assistance programs such as the comprehensive, multi-donor Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative. Silently, the PFG and other US efforts are setting the stage for an even more wide-ranging and systematic US intervention in the country’s internal policy making.

PH dependence on US economy

The US has been able to perpetuate Philippine dependence on the US economy. American investors remain the biggest source of net foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Philippines. From 1999 to 2012, net FDI from the US reached $4.52 billion, accounting for 19.8% of the total during the said period. Last year, US net FDI was pegged at $784.74 billion or 38.6% of the total, and 248.9% higher than the figure in 2011, at a time when investments from Japan, the European Union (EU), Asean and others have sharply declined.

Similarly, the US continues to be the number one buyer of Philippine exports and biggest supplier of its imports. Direct Philippine-US trade for the period 1999-2012 was $218.64 billion or 17.5% of the total. During the same period, the US accounted for 19.4% of Philippine exports and 15.8% of imports. Certainly, the figures are much higher when one considers that a portion of Philippine trade with Asean and East Asia actually ends up with the US.

Finally, the US also accounts for the largest source of remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs), including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). From 1989 to 2012, total OF remittances reached $205.71 billion, of which $108.30 billion or an overwhelming 52.6%, come from US-based migrant workers. Preliminary data for 2013 covering the months of January to July show that remittances from the US reached $5.54 billion or 43.9% of the total during the said period. Since the 1980s, OF remittances have become the largest source of foreign earnings for the Philippines and practically keeping the backward economy somehow afloat. The figures from the US are bloated a bit by the practice of remittance centers in various cities abroad to course remittances through correspondent banks that are mostly US-based. But consider also that based on the latest (2009) stock estimate of OFs, US-based OFs account for 2.88 million of the 8.58 million Filipinos abroad, or 33.6% of the total.

Through the decades, the US has spent substantial amounts to sustain and deepen its clout. Disbursements of bilateral official development assistance (ODA) from the US for the Philippines from 1999 to 2011 reached $1.12 billion, 20.9% of total disbursements during the said period and the second largest behind Japan. However, while ODA disbursements from Japan have been considerably falling since the 2008 global financial and economic crisis, bilateral US aid during the same period has steadily increased, growing by an annual 18.5% from 2009 to 2011. Under the Obama administration and its announced pivot to Asia Pacific, disbursements of bilateral US economic aid have substantially increased. From an annual average of $108.12 million and a yearly growth of 4.6% from 2001 to 2008, US bilateral economic aid to the Philippines jumped to an annual average of $152.23 million and a yearly expansion of more than 18% from 2009 to 2011.

More US intervention, neoliberal reforms

While already expanding, US assistance to the Philippines is anticipated to further increase with the introduction by the Obama administration of new initiatives that facilitate greater US intervention in the country. Requested US aid for the Philippines for fiscal year 2014 is pegged at $188 million, 17.1% higher than the base appropriation for fiscal year 2013.

One such new initiative is the Partnership for Growth (PFG), a signature inter-agency effort of Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which claims to “elevate economic growth in countries committed to good governance as a core priority for US development efforts”. The PFG supposedly aligns with policy reform areas outlined by President Aquino in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). The PFG is defined by the active participation and coordination of more than a dozen US government agencies led by the State Department, USAID and the MCC as well as multilateral donors like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN) agencies and even non-government organizations (NGOs) and private corporations.

A Statement of Principles was signed by both countries during the November 2011 Manila visit of then State Secretary Hillary Clinton. The document reflects the two governments’ supposed mutual goal to place the Philippines on a path to sustained, more inclusive economic growth, and elevate it to the ranks of high-performing emerging economies. For the US, the PFG will better position the Philippines in its objective of joining the TPP in the future.

Under the PFG, the US intends to deepen its role in national policy making such as through the five-year Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP) which identified priority areas for policy reforms in the Philippines, including trade and investment liberalization, deregulation, effective enforcement of contracts with private business (such as those engaging in PPP) as well as fiscal and judicial reforms. (See Box)

box - pfg action plan

An example of how US steers internal policy making is the PFG’s centerpiece program in the Philippines, which is the $433.91-million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC). The MCC is a highly conditional aid and requires the Philippines to, among others, maintain so-called “economic freedom” to continue receiving the grant. For instance, one of the indicators of economic freedom, as designed by the MCC, is the Trade Policy Indicator which measures the country’s openness to international trade based on average tariff rates and non-tariff barriers (e.g. trade quotas, production subsidies, government procurement procedures, anti-dumping, local content requirements, etc.) to trade. The “Compact” or agreement between the Philippine government and MCC is that the latter may suspend or terminate the grant if the country fails to reverse its policies that are inconsistent with the Trade Policy Indicator and other indicators designed by the MCC.

Also, the MCC grant does not only facilitate further liberalization of the economy but serves as a tool as well for US intervention in counterinsurgency. Aside from the the $214.4-million Samar Road project, which targets communities in Samar that are considered strongholds of the New People’s Army (NPA), the MCC grant also includes the $120-million Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). Kalahi is essentially the “social development” component of the military’s counterinsurgency campaign in Mindanao and in areas considered as stronghold of the NPA. Another project funded by the MCC grant is the $54.3-million Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP) which aims to raise tax revenues, reduce tax evasion and revenue agent-related corruption. The rest of the grant is allocated to program administration and oversight.

“Arangkada”

Early this year, USAID and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) launched the The Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP) as part of the implementation of the PFG. Through the USAID-funded TAPP, AmCham will push for the implementation of the policy proposals contained in the comprehensive advocacy paper “Arangkada Philippines 2010: A business perspective” prepared by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFC), of which AmCham is a key member.

The JFC paper listed 471 specific recommendations that promote the interest of foreign corporations in the country through greater liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization while intensifying the attack to the rights and welfare of the people.

Among others, their proposals are to: amend the Labor Code to allow subcontracting and easier termination of employees; promote IT-BPO curriculum in colleges and education reform, adopt K+12 model; lift restrictions on foreign ownership in media and advertising; promote tie-ups with foreign firms; protect PPP investors from political (i.e. regulatory) risks including TROs from courts; scrap ‘unwarranted’ taxes on foreign carriers; lift restrictions on foreign equity in power projects; privatize Agus and Pulangi dams; build more transport infrastructure through PPP; review policy disallowing “take-or-pay” and sovereign guarantees; promote PPP in the water sector; establish an export development fund to promote exports and investment; allow manufacturing industry to operate with less government interference such as price controls; liberalize importation of capital equipment; liberalize shipping industry; fully implement Mining Act; allow foreign ownership of land and retail facilities; allow relief from minimum wages; review the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL); apply ‘creative solutions’ to the 60-40 foreign ownership restriction pending Charter change (Cha-cha); privatize or close down government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to reduce fiscal burden, among others; use advisers (amicus curiae) when Supreme Court (SC) is ruling on issues that adversely affect the investment climate; promote labor flexibilization schemes; reduce corporate income tax and raise the value-added tax (VAT) and fuel excise taxes; and expand the conditional cash transfer (CCT) and Kalahi-CIDSS programs; encourage PPP in healthcare-related services.

With assistance from the TAPP, the JCF started producing Legislation Policy Brief, which identifies broad recommendations for Congress and the Executive. Among the many proposals of the JFC is the lifting of constitutional restrictions on foreign investments, which the AmCham has long been openly advocating. Thus, while Charter change (Cha-cha) is not explicitly identified in the PFG, its implementing components such as the TAPP provides pressure on the Philippine government to liberalize the Constitution.

Meanwhile, just recently, the USAID announced a $24-million Philippine-American (Phil-Am) Fund, another component of PFG implementation in the country, intended for civil society organizations (CSOs) working on projects in the areas of entrepreneurship and promotion of new businesses, governance, fighting human trafficking, technology-driven adult literacy and biodiversity conservation.

“Powerhouse” lobby group

Complementing and reinforcing the PFG is the establishment of lobby group US-Philippine Society (USPS), a private sector initiative which claims to broaden and expand interaction and understanding between the two countries in the areas of security, trade, investments, tourism, the environment, history, education and culture. The group intends to create a new and timely mechanism to elevate the Philippines’ profile in the US by bringing its longstanding historical ties fully into the 21st century when American policy interests are increasingly focused on East Asia. It was officially launched on 7 June 2012 during President Aquino’s official visit to Washington.

Its leadership includes John D. Negroponte, a former US Ambassador to the Philippines (1993-1996), first Director of National Intelligence (2005-2007) and former Deputy State Secretary (2007-2009), as co-chairman with Filipino business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan. Honorary chairmen are Maurice Greenberg, former chair and CEO of insurance and financial giant American International Group (AIG), and Washington Z. Sycip, founder of the Philippines’ largest multidisciplinary professional services firm SGV & Co. Current Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. is an ex-officio Board member.

Aside from them, the Board of Directors of USPS is also comprised of the top executives from some of the largest American corporations, namely: Citigroup, General Electric, Procter and Gamble, JP Morgan, Chevron and Coca Cola, among others. Prominent Filipino businessmen like Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Ramon del Rosario and Enrique Razon are also members of the Board. The group’s current president is John F. Maisto, a former Political Officer of the US Embassy in Manila (1978-1982) and Director of Philippine Affairs at the State Department (1982-1986). The executive director, meanwhile, is Hank Hendrickson, a retired US Navy officer and former Foreign Service Officer at the US Embassy in Manila. On 21 January 2013, Negroponte led a so-called “powerhouse” delegation of the USPS in visiting the country, bringing with him officials of the American corporations belonging to the lobby group and held discussions with Aquino and top economic and defense officials as well as SC Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno to update on key economic and judicial reforms, including those under the PFG.

Defending PH sovereignty

The US pivot and Aquino’s subservience to US interests are creating conditions for increased US intervention in the country not only militarily but also in terms of economic policy making and governance. A new era in the more than a century old colonial and neocolonial relations between the Philippines and the US is indeed being ushered in by the Aquino and Obama regimes.

The serious implications on national sovereignty, human rights, regional peace and stability and even on the environment of greater US military presence and intervention are well-documented and widely discussed. However, there is a big challenge for advocates of national sovereignty and patrimony to deepen and widen the public discourse on US intervention and the Asia Pacific pivot to equally underscore how the US, in its desperate efforts to abate its latest economic crisis, is increasingly and systematically laying the groundwork to further steer the national economy towards serving its monopoly capitalist interests.

There is a need to draw and highlight how Philippine-US colonial and neocolonial ties and decades of neoliberal restructuring and reforms have stunted national development and destroyed industries and livelihood, perpetuating chronic poverty and the permanent economic crisis in the country.

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Military & war

Tubbataha grounding: Expect more abuses as US pivots to Asia

Environmental advocates and activists protest the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef, call for the junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and immediate pullout of US troops from the Philippines. (Photo from www.globaltimes.cn)

Environmental advocates and activists protest the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef, call for the junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and immediate pullout of US troops from the Philippines. (Photo from www.globaltimes.cn)

The grounding of the USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef shows one of the many dangers that increased US military presence in the country brings. Just several months prior to the destruction of a portion of the protected reefs by the 224-foot American minesweeper, which reports peg at about 1,000 square meters, the US Navy was also involved in the dumping of toxic waste in Subic Bay. Worse, the presence of American forces in the country has also meant the death of our people such as the fisherman who was hit by a US military speedboat in Basilan last year. All these incidents happened in a span of less than one year.

To be sure, these are not the first transgressions committed by US soldiers who are in the Philippines through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). (See box at the end of this article for a summary of some of the human rights atrocities committed by US troops under the VFA.) The rape of Nicole by US Marine Daniel Smith in Subic is still fresh in our collective memory. But what is alarming is the increasing frequency of such transgressions and the impunity that the US forces enjoy. Daniel Smith was acquitted. The family of the Basilan fisherman opted for a settlement with the US military. The US Navy was absolved of any liability in the Subic toxic waste dumping.

In the Tubbataha grounding incident, which dealt the protected reefs its worst damage on record, it is perturbing that our officials seem content in just seeking financial compensation for the damaged reef, worth a paltry $300 per square meter. (If the damage is 1,000 sq. m, that makes us entitled to $300,000 or about ₱12 million. Certainly, a measly sum compared to the importance of Tubbataha as a World Heritage site.) President Benigno Aquino III was also emphatic on the need of the US to pay in accordance with our laws. While imposing financial penalties and demanding an official apology from the US are legitimate demands, their importance should not be overemphasized. They should be treated as a given and should be implemented as a matter of policy. But the Philippines must take a more decisive stance on this issue, one that goes beyond demanding compensation and apology from a supposed friend and partner.

Sadly, no administration official, including Aquino, has raised the need to pursue the criminal liability of the US forces, particularly the USS Guardian commander (identified as Lt. Commander Mark A. Rice) who ignored the warnings of the Tubbataha park rangers and ordered his men to be in “battle position” when local authorities tried to exercise their rightful jurisdiction over the vessel. The special treatment being accorded to the US troops is evident in the decision of the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) not to include jail time in the penalties it is seeking for the grounding incident despite clear provisions in the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act (TRNP) of 2009 or Republic Act (RA) 10067. No administration official has raised the need to at least review the VFA given the circumstances surrounding the suspicious presence of the USS Guardian in the Tubbataha area (worse, the US Navy and US government’s failure or refusal to explain such presence more than 10 days since the incident) and the actions taken by the ship’s officials. On the contrary, defense and military officials assert that regular port visits by US warships and joint military trainings with the American troops under the annual Balikatan exercises will continue, as if the Tubbataha incident did not happen. Aquino himself absolved the VFA, claiming that the ever controversial military deal has “nothing to do with the Americans’ going to Tubbataha” and that the issue is simply “a question of violating certain ecological laws.”

Aquino is wrong. The USS Guardian and numerous other US warships, aircraft and troops have been going in and out of, and around, the country via the VFA. Thus questioning the VFA and raising the political issues, beyond the environmental aspect of the controversy, is crucial in asserting our sovereignty as a nation, which is the crux of the matter in the Tubbataha incident. This becomes more important in the light of the announced pivot to Asia Pacific of US military forces. Concretely, the pivot takes the form of deploying 60% of US’s naval fleet in the region. The US Navy is the world’s largest (its tonnage is said to be greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined) and includes, among others, 11 aircraft carriers (out of the 21 active carriers worldwide) and 71 submarines. Six out of the 11 US carriers are currently already deployed in the Asia Pacific but the US also plans to deploy more of its most advanced warships and jet fighters in the region as part of the pivot. Certainly, their increased presence in our seas will make us more exposed to incidents like Tubbataha and other abuses even as Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin vainly attempts to distance the frequent and unhampered entry of US warships in the country to the grounding incident, swallowing hook, line and sinker the flimsy excuse by the captain of the USS Guardian about a faulty navigation system.

In the Philippines, one of the immediate and obvious effects of the US pivot is the drastic increase in the frequency of so-called “routine port calls” of American warships. In 2012, for instance, a total of at least 10 supposedly regular port visits have been reported in the media, with the US warships docking at mostly at Subic and Manila bays. The port visits involved 12 warships of varying sizes that included the nuclear-powered super carrier USS George Washington (escorted by two other military vessels); four nuclear-powered submarines which included the most technologically advanced in the world – the USS North Carolina, USS Louisville, USS Hawaii and USS Olympia; and a host of guided-missile destroyers, submarine tender and amphibious assault ship. On the other hand, in 2011 there were only three reported port visits involving six ships.

2012 partial list of PH-US bilateral military exercises & “routine port calls” by US military warships
Date

Summary

Mar. 3 Port visit in Iloilo of USS Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, to participate in the US Embassy’s program “showcasing American culture, US businesses & embassy services”
Mar. 5-10 Operation Pacific Angel 2012 – Some 99 US military members (US Air Force), along with members of the PH military, NGOs and LGUs conducted medical, dental, optometry & engineering programs in Legazpi, Albay
Apr. 16-27 28th Balikatan exercises involving 4,500 personnel from the US Pacom & 2,300 AFP personnel conducted command post exercise (which also included about 20 participants from Asean & 15 from other partner nations), multiple field training exercises & engineering, humanitarian & civic assistance projects (also supported by 385 local health professionals); exercises were held in Metro Manila, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Zamboanga, Jolo & Basilan
May 14 Routine port call in Subic of the USS North Carolina, a Virginia class fast attack submarine, also described as one of the “stealthiest, most technologically advanced” nuclear-powered submarines in the world
Jun. 25-30 Routine port call in Subic of the USS Louisville, a Los Angeles class nuclear-powered attack submarine, to restock & R&R for its crew
Jul. 2-10 18th Cooperation Afloat Readiness & Training (Carat) involving some 500 members of US Navy & Coast Guard & about 450 personnel from the PH Navy & Coast Guard; exercises were held in General Santos City & Saranggani
Aug. 19-20 Routine port call in Manila of the USS Millius, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer
Sep. 3 Routine port call in Subic of the USS Frank Cable, an L.Y. Spear class submarine tender; ship repair, maintenance and training under the PH-US Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreement (Acsa) between sailors of USS Frank Cable & BRP Greogorio del Pilar
Sep. 7 Routine port call in Subic of the USS Hawaii, one of the most advanced nuclear-powered submarines in the world; capable of transporting special operations forces, unmanned undersea vehicles & US Navy Seals
Oct. 4 Routine port call in Subic of the USS Olympia, a Los Angeles class nuclear-powered submarine
Oct. 5 Routine port call in Subic of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, for R&R of its sailors & to offload US Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) who were participating in the Phiblex 13
Oct. 8-18 Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex 13) involving some 2,600 personnel from the US Pacom & over 1,200 from the AFP; exercises, held in Zambales, Palawan, Tarlac, Cavite & Nueva Ecija included staff planning exercise, a static aircraft display, multiple field training exercises & humanitarian & civic assistance projects
Oct. 24-28 Routine port call in Manila the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered Nimitz class aircraft carrier with about 5,500 personnel; it carries about 80 aircrafts of various purposes, primarily F-18 Hornets, helicopters & E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning turboprops; it was escorted by two other vessels – the USS Cowpens (a Ticenderoga-class guided missile cruiser) & USS McCampbell (an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer)
Nov. 19 Routine port call in Manila by USS Gridley, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer & part of the US Pacific Fleet
2011 “routine port calls” & PH-US bilateral military exercises: USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship (Manila, Dec. 1-4); Cooperation Afloat Readiness & Training (Sulu Sea, Palawan; Jun. 28 to Jul. 8); USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group, which also includes guided-missile destroyers USS Shiloh, USS Bunker Hill & USS Gridley (Manila, May 15-19); 27th Balikatan exercise (Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Palawan, Cavite, Cebu; Apr. 5-15); USS Blue Ridge, command & control ship of the US 7th Fleet (Feb. 13-16)
Data as of Nov. 26, 2012 onlyData culled from the Embassy of the United States, Manila, Philippines, press & photo releases for 2011 & 2012, http://manila.usembassy.gov/media-resources.html, and from various online media reports

The table above does not represent an exhaustive list of all the “port visits” by US warships in the Philippines as it merely enumerated what’s reported in the media. A statement attributed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) claimed that in 2012, US ships made 197 port calls (aside from 444 US aircraft that were cleared to land) in the Philippines. Residents of Olongapo City claim that different US warships dock at Subic Bay almost weekly. When I visited Olongapo during the New Year break, I counted at least five large US ships docked at the bay. The presence of these US military ships was not reported by the media. And I’m pretty sure that many other abuses and transgressions by American troops also went unreported.

Human rights abuses and US troops
The presence of American soldiers in the country has invited grave abuses and violations of Filipinos’ human rights. This has been the case since the US occupation of the country and continued when they still had military bases in Subic and Clark. Under the VFA, attacks on human rights perpetrated by the US troops persist and worse, even covered up by the authorities. These abuses include the mauling of a certain Marcelo Batesil in Cebu City; the shooting of suspected Abu Sayyaf suspect Buyung-Buyong Isnijal in Basilan province; the reported massacre of three Muslim civilians in Barangay Sipangkot, Umapoy Island in Tawi-Tawi and four others in Maimbung, Sulu; and the killing of a certain Arsid Baharon in Barangay San Roque in Zamboanga City.

But the biggest and most controversial case of abuse so far is the rape of Nicole in Subic involving four American Marines in 2005. In December 2006, a local judge convicted one the Marines, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, of raping Nicole. The Court of Appeals (CA), however, reversed the decision in April 2009. But one month before the CA ruling, Nicole had issued a controversial affidavit which claimed that she “can’t help but entertain doubts on whether the sequence of events in Subic… really occurred”. This affidavit was apparently the result of pressure from the US and Malacañang with the lawyer assisting Nicole in the second affidavit reportedly from the same law firm of Smith’s counsels. While it carries no legal implication, its intention was to influence public opinion so that the CA acquittal of Smith will be easily accepted by the people. Nicole was also reportedly given P100,000 in “moral and exemplary damages” by the camp of Smith aside from a US visa that allowed her to fly to the US “for good”.

US troops staying in the country were again dragged into another controversy in 2010, this time involving the death of an interpreter they hired for an elite unit of US Special Forces called the Liaison Coordination Elements (LCE). Gregan Cardeño was found dead inside a Joint Special Operation Task Force (JSOTF) facility in Camp Ranao in Marawi City on Feb. 2, 2010 after allegedly committing suicide. Less than two months later, Capt. Javier Ignacio of the Philippine Army – a friend of the Cardeños helping to shed light on his death – was shot dead by unidentified gun men. Before his death, Cardeño separately called his sister and wife and told them that his job was “hard and not what he expected”. Ignacio, meanwhile, was killed while on his way to meet human rights groups to execute an affidavit on what he discovered about Cardeño’s death.

Sources: Sworn statement of Nicole, Mar. 12, 2009 (http://www.gmanews.tv/story/153159/Sworn-Statement-of-Nicole); GMA News Online. “Smith camp’s hand seen in Nicole ‘recantation’ bared”. Mar. 18, 2009 (http://www.gmanews.tv/story/153150/Smith-camps-hand-in-Nicole-recantation-bared); The Philippine Star. “’Nicole’ leaves for US, settles for P100,000”. Mar. 18, 2009. Retrieved Mar. 25, 2011; (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=449575&publicationSubCategoryId=63); Lacorte, Germelina. “Group demands junking RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement over death of Filipino interpreter”. Davao Today. Jul. 15, 2010. Retrieved Mar. 25, 2011 (http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/15/group-demands-junking-rp-us-vfa-over-death-of-filipino-interpreter/)  

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