22 May 2009
“US Troops are Public Health Hazards!”-HEAD
Does the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) cover the H1N1 virus and other potential pandemics? If not, then why are Philippine authorities bending over backwards again to accommodate US military forces participating in a four-day naval exercise dubbed the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) 2009?
Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) admonished the Arroyo administration, particularly the Department of Health, for deferring to medical officers of the US troops and exempting them from the standard procedures of quarantine. The troops come from Japan, where more cases H1N1 infections have recently been documented.
“The DOH should consider these military personnel as public health hazards if they refuse to undergo quarantine procedures as set by the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary-general.
The guidelines for quarantine were made to avert any potential H1N1 pandemic. Thus, HEAD believes that the DOH and the Arroyo administration should be more stringent with the quarantine procedures rather than taking more liberties.
“It is the duty of the DOH to check and double-check these troops because ensuring the health of the Filipino people is its paramount duty, not ensuring our VFA commitments!”
HEAD notes that despite assurances from the medical officers of the US troops, the DOH should insist on screening and examining them, as these are matters of responsibility and accountability.
“The aversion for accountability by the US government and its military forces is notoriously legendary. In the rape case involving Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, we have seen how accountability is applied under the VFA,” added Dr. Rivera. “Are we going to wait until Filipinos are dying like flies on a windscreen before we do something?”
HEAD warns that this form of political accommodation is putting the Filipino people directly in harm’s way. It is also another strong reason to finally abrogate the VFA.
“The VFA is not a ‘carte blanche’ for the US government and its military forces to act irresponsibly, as though they are above national and international laws,” concluded Dr. Rivera. “The VFA, however, has become an excuse for subservient Filipino politicians to showcase who amongst them is the best lapdog of US-imperialism.”
“Like the VFA, these politicians should be junked with extreme prejudice!”####
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Mar. 25th 2009