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Archive for September, 2009

PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Dean Roland Tolentino, spokesperson
September 15, 2009

Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change calls for the immediate termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), in light of recent revelations by Ret. Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian and statements of high ranking US officials confirming the involvement of US troops in combat operations in the Philippines.

Pagbabago! welcomes the Resolution of the Senate on the Renegotiation or Termination of the VFA, as introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, and already signed by four other senators. The resolution underscored the unconstitutionality of the VFA, challenging the Supreme Court’s decision on the Nicolas v. Romulo in February 2009.

No less than US Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that 600-elite troops are staying in the country for counterinsurgency operations; while Col. Bill Coultrup, Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines describes his task force’s work as 20 percent combat-related, designed to “help the armed forces of the Philippines neutralize high value targets…”

We fully support Ret. Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian in her testimony on US troops’ presence and operations in the Philippines. Ms. Gadian’s statement that US troops have stayed in the Philippines for the last “seven years, 365 days in a year” and, are stationed in permanent structures in various camps in Mindanao, confirms the permanent basing of supposedly ‘visiting’ US troops in the country, in violation of the Philippine Constitution.

Ms. Gadian testified based on her personal knowledge of the US military’s direct role in intelligence operations, by determining enemy targets and their location, and briefing Philippine military officials in conducting operations against these targets. She also attests that US troops are embedded in Philippine military units operating in Mindanao.

Ms. Gadian testified further that US forces unilaterally conduct some of their operations without informing Philippine authorities, in violation of the Constitution and even of the VFA.

We admire Ms. Gadian’s courage in exposing the corruption in the Balikatan exercises and the US troops’ involvement in the country’s internal affairs. With Ms. Gadian’s testimony, there is now factual basis in the latest Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on the Nicolos v. Romulo case pending before the Supreme Court.

The actual conduct and operations of US troops staying in the country refers to the VFA as the legal framework, even if the VFA does not stipulate provisions for permanent basing and joint military exercises such as the Balikatan. For ten years, the VFA has been the basis for the unbridled entry and stay of the US troops in the country.

We call on the other Senators to support the Resolution to abrogate the VFA. Our legislators, especially those vying for higher positions come the 2010 elections, should make clear their stand on the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. #

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