Philippine Bases Treaty Appears Doomed as Debate Opens
The Philippine Senate began crucial debates on Wednesday, apparently intent on burying a military bases treaty with the United States and ending the 93-year American military presence here.
An aide to President Corazon Aquino, meanwhile, said Aquino will seek a referendum to decide the bases issue if the Senate refuses to approve the pact.
The hard-line stand taken by a majority of senators, calling for the treaty’s rejection in a second round of voting, indicated that Aquino has failed in her efforts to use “people power” in support of the treaty.
Observed Sen. Ernesto Maceda, a treaty opponent: “Aquino tried very hard to capture the spirit of 1986 . . . but due to her own incompetence, the spirit of 1991 is no longer listening.”
The debates, said Sen. Aquilino Pimental, another treaty opponent, now are merely an “exercise in entombment” of the treaty.
Twelve of the 23 senators voted in the first round to reject the treaty, all but ensuring the agreement’s demise. The United States has said it will start withdrawing from the Philippines once the current agreement expires next week.
Sen. Neptali Gonzales, one of the 11 who favored ratification, conceded that the treaty is doomed.