Archive for the ‘Balikatan News Reports’ Category

In April of this year, an estimated 6000 American and 2500 Filipino troops will be forcefully injected in the Bicol Region to participate in the 25th Republic of the Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercises. The provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon are the confirmed target locations of the said exercises.

Previous military exercises in the Philippines provided adverse effects to the masses: Exploitation of minors, abuse of women, extrajudicial killings, prostitution and threats to health, damage to properties and resources and legalization of drugs.

In this regard, Youth Stop Balikatan, a youth alliance denouncing the RP-US Balikatan Exercises, was formed.

Realizing the need to act on this issue, YSB will be launching three consecutive activities on 18 February.

All participants are invited to attend the Regional Convention from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges. This will be followed by a torch march from CSPC-BCAT Hostel to Plaza Quezon, where a free concert will take place featuring Indie Bands like Tanikala, Musikang Bayan and Stolen Shots.

YSB will also be hosting group discussions to further inform the public of Balikatan and the agreements between RP and US that led to the current situation, and of the effects it will bring about to the Filipinos especially to the Bicolanos.

The convenors encourage everyone to unite and take part in uplifting their rights as citizens and in condemning this form of foreign intervention.

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News Release
February 4, 2009
Reference: Fred Mansos, convenor, ALMAALAB
Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

Albay anti-Balikatan alliance launched!
Says US troops checking local hospitals if they can treat injured US soldiers

Members of the academe, media, lawyer’s groups, religious groups, business sector, students, people’s organizations and progressive party list groups convened the Alyansa ng Mamamayang Albayano Laban sa Balikatan (ALMAALAB) in order to have a collective stand in the province against the outright US intervention in the Philippines hidden behind the so-called RP-US Joint Military Exercise.

According to Fred Mansos, convenor of ALMAALAB, “we know that the disguised humanitarian missions that will be conducted are just cover for their real purpose and that is to launch psychological and combat operations in the region. In the middle of January a US naval officer came to inquire at different Albay hospitals asking if they have orthopedic facilities and experts,”

“This is highly irregular because if they will only hold humanitarian missions then they would already have a complete medical profile of the provinces months before the actual activity. Another point is that they are only asking about orthopedic facilities and experts, this is the usual branch of medicine that treats injuries from combat operations, meaning they are indeed going to conduct at least live military exercises and at most combat operations in the province,” said Mansos.

Meanwhile Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, said “this information adds to the fact that a US drone was found to have crashed in Masbate around 6:30pm last January 29 in between the towns of Esperanza and Pio V. Corpuz. They were evidently mapping the areas where they will conduct their military operations,”

“They have been fooling Bicolanos all along and are endangering our lives with their cloak and dagger schemes..   They should be held accountable and be punished for their actions. It would be naïve for us to think that the US Special Forces came here to Bicol just to play doctor and dentist. They have clear strategic military objectives along the lines of securing US political and military interests and these have to be stopped along with the Balikatan exercises,” ended Bisuña.

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News Release
January 29, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

As the Anti-Balikatan Campaign in Bikol escalates, some Bikolano video enthusiasts, writers and members of people’s organization decided to bring together a video production that expresses the different sentiments of people who will be affected if ever the Balikatan exercises pushes through.

On January 29, 2009 at Quick and Hearty Café, Old albay, Legaspi City, alternative media group BikolXPress and regional alliance Ban-BAlikatan will launch the anti-Balikatan video production “Bikolanong Makabayan, Habo sa Balikatan (Nationalist Bicolano Against Balikatan).” This production is the opening salvo of series against Balikatan to be released this year.

The 18 minute video covers the strong sentiments of Bikolanos against Balikatan. Fisher folks of the Albay Gulf, peasants from the third district of Albay, intellectuals and the religious leaders from Sorsogon and Albay, all share their apprehension and annoyance over the coming of the US troops in the region.

The interviewees also expose the hypocrisy of the Humanitarian Services as a cover for the military exercise they are planning in the region, thus questioning why should US  military personnel do humanitarian aid and why Bikol region.

Balikatan 2009 is the 25th military exercise in the country. Although the AFP and US troops claim that it is purely for humanitarian mission, intensified military operations, such as SOTs, have already plagued the areas where Balikatan will be staged.

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Kanselasyon ng Balikatan sa Bicol ipinanawagan

IPINANAWAGAN ni Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan ang kanselasyon ng Balikatan Exercises sa Bicol dahil sa maraming kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga sundalong Kano sa Mindanao.

Inanunsiyo kamakailan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines na magsisimula sa Abril ang Balikatan Exercises, ehersisyong militar sa pagitan ng US at Pilipinas, sa mga probinsya ng Albay, Masbate, at Sorsogon sa rehiyon ng Bicol.

Pero ayon kay Ilagan, sa mga lugar sa Mindanao na pinaglulunsaran ng Balikatan Exercises, “naghahasik ng terorismo ang mga sundalong Kano sa mga sibilyang komunidad, at kailanman hindi sila pinapanagot sa ilalim ng batas dahil sa immunity na ibinibigay mismo ni Pangulong Arroyo.”

Inihalimbawa ng kongresista ang kaso ni Arsid Baharun of Zamboanga City na nasugatan sa testing missions ng mga sundalong Kano noong 2004. Noong 2006 naman, nasugatan ang 50-anyos na si Bizma Juhan nang sumabog ang isang bomba sa ehersisyong militar ng mga tropang Kano sa Indanan, Sulu.

Nauna nang binatikos ng National Democratic Front- Bicol ang Balikatan Exercises na umano’y layong durugin ang mga komunistang rebeldeng New People’s Army.

“Walang bandidong Abu Sayyaf o anumang teroristang grupo sa Bikol, at wala ring malalang kalamidad sa nakaraang dalawang taon upang gawing batayan ng Balikatan. Malinaw na ang tunay na pakay ng tropang US ay makialam sa palpak na counter-insurgency program ng AFP,” pahayag ni Greg Banares, tagapagsalita ng NDF-Bicol.

Aniya pa, layon ng mga tropang Kano na isarbey ang mga kalupaan sa rehiyon para tiktikan ang NPA at para mapakinabangan ng mga kompanyang US na interesado sa mga likas-yaman doon.

Labag umano ito sa pambansang soberanya at integridad sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas.- Pinoy Weekly Online

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This is a recent report in the GMA Network’s Regional News regarding Balikatan in Bicol.

NDF calls for opposition to ‘Balikatan’ in Bicol

MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels have vowed to resist the upcoming RP-US Balikatan exercises that will be held in the Bicol region this year.National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Bicol spokesman Gregorio Bañares said residents in the region should not be fooled by US claims of “humanitarian missions.”

“Para sa US, magkasinghalaga ang pagpatay ng isang ekstremista at ang mga ‘humanitarian missions’ sa kontra-insurhensya. Kung kaya’t ginagamit nito ang mga pekeng ‘humanitarian missions’ upang magsarbey ng karagatan at kalupaan ng bansa at maniktik laban sa rebolusyunaryong kilusan (For the United States, the humanitarian missions are just a cover for surveying Philippine terrain and spying on the revolutionary movement),” Bañares said in a statement on the Communist Party of the Philippines website.

Several provinces in Bicol are considered infested by New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the CPP and NDFP.

On the other hand, Bañares said the exercises are a form of US military intervention.

This is a form of US military intervention that violates our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.

Because of these, he urged residents in Bicol to resist the Balikatan exercises, which are reportedly due to start this February.

“Walang bandidong Abu Sayyaf o anumang teroristang grupo sa Bikol, at wala ring malalang kalamidad sa nakaraang dalawang taon upang gawing batayan ng BALIKATAN EXERCISES. Malinaw na ang tunay na pakay ng tropang US ay makialam sa palpak na counter-insurgency program ng AFP laban sa CPP-NPA-NDF (There is no Abu Sayyaf or terrorist group in Bicol. Neither is there any calamity. It is clear that the objective of the Balikatan exercise is to bolster the government’s failed counterinsurgency efforts),” he said. GMANews.TV

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TV Patrol Bicol episode January 8, 2009, reported the recently conducted AFP-Bicol press conference with regards to the 25th Balikatan exercises in Bicol which will commence by April, 2009.

According to declarations of US Military and AFP spokespersons, the provinces chosen as the primary sites of Balikatan are Masbate, Sorsogon and Albay. They will be concentrating in the 3rd district of Albay, Municipalities of Uson and Mobo in Masbate and Municipalities of Juban and Irosin in Sorsogon.

The US Military spokesperson, Captain Kelly Schmader declared that they are committed to conducting Humanitarian Missions and nothing else.

By the 1st week of April, Medical Missions will be commenced and even veterinarians will also be available.

By the 2nd week of April, they will start the Infrastructure project, wherein construction of water facilities will be the priority. The construction materials for these projects will be purchased mainly in Bicol to help the industry.

The US Government/US Military had initially budgeted $450,000 USD for these projects.

Watch the full report about this at TV Patrol Bicol, January 8, 2009 episode by downloading the video.

What the US Military says about this Balikatan exercises in Bicol being purely Humanitarian Missions is all very well, but we must not forget that they have also said the same about the previous Balikatan exercises in Mindanao which culminated to cases of civilian executions, killings, damage of property, and other military atrocities and abuses of power committed shamelessly by no less than US military servicemen and AFP personnel who are part of the Balikatan.

Let us also not forget about the Subic Rape Case wherein several members of US troops from Balikatan were involved – Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith and 3 other US military servicemen were convicted of sexually assaulting and gang raping 22 year-old Nicole, a Filipino.

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RP, US announce April Balikatan Exercises 2009 in Bicol
By Celso Amo Updated January 08, 2009 03:30 PM

LEGAZPI CITY—Representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States have announced that the Balikatan Exercise this year will be conducted this coming April in the Bicol region.

Major Llewellyn Binasoy, chief of the Research and Special Concerns Division of the Civil Military Operations of the AFP, said the Balikatan Exercise, which is an annual bilateral military exercise between the Philippines and the United States for the past 15 years will be held in April.

“At present, both forces are now in the process of detailed planning in consultation with local stakeholders to ensure the success of the scheduled Balikatan Exercise 2009,” said Binasoy during a press briefing at the conference room of the Venezia Hotel here this morning.

Binasoy said the primary objective of the exercise is to improve the inter-operability of both forces for mutual defense in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“While the primary function remains to make both forces ready to aid each other, the conduct of the exercise has evolved and is continuously evolving,” Binasoy said, adding that for this year, the Balikatan Exercise will help communities in the Bicol Region by conducting medical, dental, veterinary and other humanitarian assistance like repair of school buildings, put up water systems and construct farm to market roads.

Capt. Kelly Schmader, commander of the 13th Naval Construction Regiment of the United States Pacific Fleet, said that some 450 US personnel will be joining the military exercises.

Thee cost of the project is shouldered jointly by both parties with the US allotting some $450,000.

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