Nuke deal, permanent basing could be part of Cha-cha’s hidden agenda, group claims

Photo from Hindustan Times

Instead of staying neutral in the heightening tension between military superpowers and calling for demilitarization of the West Philippine Sea and the whole of the Indo-Pacific region, the Philippines, under the leadership of Marcos, Jr., is arming itself with the purchase of nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles from India, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement to media Monday.

PM said the plan should be aborted, or if it’s too late to undo, prevent its commissioning, or better swapped with other goods that will directly benefit our services-deprived people.

The Philippine Constitution, particularly Section 8 of Article II, bans nuclear weapons in the country, though it is hardly imposed against the presence of US soldiers and arms in the country.

“We tend to believe, therefore, that proponents of charter change will also amend this article in favor of the P12-B nuke deal with India as well as the re-establishment of permanent US military bases in the country,” warned Mario Andon, spokesperson of the Iloilo chapter of PM.

The group was reacting to local news that Brahmos, an Indian-made nuclear-capable cruise missile, is arriving in the country in a few days, with the missile batteries to follow in March.

These reports confirm what the Hindustan Times carried in its January 25 report that the ground systems will reach the Philippines in the next 10 days followed by the missiles that will be delivered by March. It was made possible, it said, two years after the two countries signed a deal worth almost $375 million to equip the Philippine Marines with three batteries of the missiles.

Andon said the country’s desperation against the Chinese position in the West Philippine Sea, “doesn’t warrant a decision to engage in an arms race the way imperialist powers spend their people’s money for senseless wars amidst the intensifying cost-of-living and climate crises.”

Furthermore, Andon questioned the strategic rationale behind the procurement, noting that a handful of supersonic nuclear-capable missiles won’t match China’s vast arsenal of advanced missile systems.

The labor leader said acquiring a P21-B missile system, the first in the country, “is a very expensive experiment, adding that the money could have acquired 21,000 tractors for our farmers or 11,000 modern jeepneys for operators affected by the PUV modernization or 21,000 classrooms.”

“But the biggest question to ask why BBM shopped for Brahmos is whether the country is already preparing for war with China, in concert with the plans by Western powers, particularly the US, UK, and France,” said Andon.

If that is the case, he said, then the Marcos government is removing all pretensions for international diplomacy and lays bare its hidden agenda in the ongoing drive for charter change.

In conclusion, PM reiterates its stance against militarization and urges the government to prioritize peaceful resolutions and regional cooperation rather than preparing the road for the country’s nuclear armament.