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From the start the 9th Infantry Division (ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been telling the Bicol public that the US troops that are to come here are only to be engaged in “purely humanitarian missions” but many of their actions tell us otherwise. In fact events show that they have been fooling Bicolanos all along and that US troops are preparing for combat operations in the region.

According to Maj. Ramon Zagala, Filipino spokesman for the Balikatan exercises, 6,000 US troops will join 2,500 Filipino soldiers with warships and even F-16 fighter jets, starting February 25. If this does not mean US military operations, then I do not know what is.  This run counter to what the 9th ID said, from the date of the exercises and even to its very nature.

Add to this the fact that 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.

A US drone was also 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.

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. If it continues, then they may as well spit at our collective faces.

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News Release
January 27, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

On Punishing Rights Abusers: BAN BALIKATAN to US Envoy: “Look who’s talking!”

The BAN BALIKATAN alliance reacted strongly on US Ambassador Kristie Kenney’s statement that rights abusers should be punished. The group said that it is like adding insult to injury because the US is the No.1 rights violator in the world and continuously abuse the rights of Filipinos.

Under George W. Bush, the US also supported the policy of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime in silencing and killing activists and journalists. BAN BALIKATAN enumerated some of the recent violations of the US soldiers, they even sited the closing of a hospital by American soldiers and the rape of Nicole in Subic.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “When saying these types of statements one should have high moral ascendancy but it is very hypocritical coming from the US government. From our stand point it very difficult to believe her, when further proof of their military intervention came to light in Jolo,”

“We condemn the abduction of the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jolo, but this is no excuse for US intervention in our country’s internal affairs. Kidnapping should be dealt with by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and at the maximum by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), but it seems that the police and the military go to the US military any chance they get. The US drones sighting in Jolo is not the first time, the same drones were sighted in 2007 in Indanan, Sulu,”

“This is the latest proof that US troops have never left the country and that they are actively involved in combat operations like in August 2007 when US troops were photographed and the Agence France Press photographer even testified that US troops were indeed in combat operations with Philippine soldiers in Mindanao.,” said Bisuña.

“In December 2007, American soldiers forced the shutdown of Panamao District Hospital once again in Sulu province. These are all very damning evidence of US military intervention in our country and a concrete manifestation of the US government’s contempt for our national sovereignty,” added the patriotic professor.

“These incidents are clear violations of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and a slap on the face of the Filipino people. We in BAN BALIKATAN will not like the same to happen here in Bicol, in the guise of humanitarian missions. At the very least a probe is in order and the immediate pull out of US troops in the area, as well as the cancellation of the Balikatan. The junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement is also not far off, because of this. We will only believe Ambassador Kenney when these have been done” ended Bisuña.

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Pahayag ng SUMABA KA ( SPEAK OUT ) hinggil sa Balikatan
Rev. Lemuel S. Igdanes, Provincial Spokesperson

Ang SUMABA KA (SPEAK -OUT) ay isang malawak at nagkakaisang patriotikong  organisasyon sa lalawigan ng Sorsogon, mga nagmamahal sa kapayapaan at soberenya ng bansang Pilipinas ay  mariing tinututulan ang pagsasagawa ng BALIKATAN 2009 dito sa BIKOL nayong darating na Abril 2009.

Kagyat naming pinagkakaisa ang aming mga tinig at nananawagan sa lahat ng mamamayan ng Sorsogon na maging mapagbantay sa gagawing BALIKATAN Exercises ng AFP at tropang militar ng Kano. Pinaninindigan namin sa muli na ang SORSOGON ay handang muling ipaaabot ang kanyang tinig gaya ng mga naunang pagtutol sa anumang ikasisira ng  buhay at pagyurak sa sangnilikha.

Mariin naming tinututulan ang pagpasok ng nasabing “pagsasanay militar” at makataong pag tulong sa pamamagitan ng “humanitarian missions” na isasagawa at gagawin sa loob ng anim na buwan simula Abril 2009.

Sa katotohanan sila ay nagsimula na noon pang Enero 7, 2009 na hindi man lamang dumaan sa tamang proseso at protocol. Hindi sila ngbigay ng kaukulang respeto sa opisina ni Governor Sally Lee. Repleksyon mismo ito ng kanilang kawalan ng respeto sa soberanya at karapatan ng lokal na pamahalaan at mga lokal na mga mamamayan.

Sa halip na magbigay respeto sa opisina ng Gobernador, sila ay agad na dumiretso sa munisipalidad ng Juban. Si Mayor Fragata nakausap at nakadaupang palad ni Capt. Kelly Schmader, Commandeer ng 13th NavalConstruction Regiment ng US Pacific Fleet.

Kung magtutuloy tuloy ang ganitong kawalang respeto sa lokal na pamahalaan ano pa kaya sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan ng Sorsogon at iba pang karatig  probinsya?

Tinututulan namin ang BALIKATAN 2009 at ipinaaabot ang mga maaaring maging epekto nito sa buhay, ariarian ng mamamayang Pilipino na nasa Sorsogon kung saan apat na munisipalidad ang sasaklawin:

1. Juban

2. Irosin

3. Matnog at

4. Bulan

Una,ito ay labag sa ating Saligang Batas at panteritoryong integridad. Ayon sa Section1 @ 25 of Article 11 ng Konstitusyon ng Plipinas na nagbabawal ng pagkakaroon ng dayuhang base militar at tropang militar sa ating bansa.

Ikalawa, ito ay para sa tinatawag na “global hegemony at expansion of territory” ng US upang ang kanilang eonomikong interes ay lumago. lalot higit na humaharap ngayon ang US sa isang global financial crisis, potensial ang Pilipinas na pagkukunan ng hilaw na materyales gaya ng ginto, bakal oro at iba pang yamang mineral sa pamamagitan ng pagtatayo ng transnational na korporasyon na magmimina sa ating mga bundok, sa pahintulot ng GMA pamahalaan.

Ikatlo,mas lulubha ang di-mapipigilan ang sagupaan sa pagitan ng AFP at NPA at mas lalong dadami ang madadamay na mga sibilyan. Kung susuriin, ang insurhensya ay internal na problema sa pagitan ng nag-aaway na panig ( GRP at CPP NPA NDF) a hindi kailanman dapat makialam ang US  sa ganitong sitwasyon.

Ikaapat, dadami ang kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pangtao, walang habas na pamamaril gayan ng ginawa nila sa  Basilan at Sulu, sapilitang pagpapalikas,paninira ng aria-arian at pamamaslang, pananakit at pananakot sa ordinaryong mamamayan.

Ikalima, dadami at kakalat   ang prostitusyon, at ang mga nakakahawang sakit gaya ng AIDS, herpes, syphilis, gonorhea at paglala ng kriminalidad at pagkakalat ng droga na makakasira sa moral na aspeto ng mga tao at buong kumunidad.

At ikaanim, dinadagdagan nito ang suliranin na pinapasan ng mamamayan  ng Sorsogon. Di na nga tayo magkandaugaga sa pagpasan sa ekonomikong kalalagayan gaya ng napakataas na presyo ng prime commodities  gaya ng bigas asukal atbp  at sa  napakababang pasahod, hirap na nga tayong maiangat at maiayos mga buhay natin  anupat tayo ay  paglalaruan, at aalisan ng karapatan sa sarili nating bayan.

Saan na tayo nito papunta? Hahayaan  ba  nating  sa sarili nating bayan harap harapan tayong magdusa at maglingkod sa mga dayuhang walang ibang hatid satin kundi hirap at pasakit?

Ito na ang tamang panahon upang ang panghihimasok ng US sa ating bansa ay ating tutulan. Kung naniniwala tayong ang Pilipinas ay para sa mga Filipino, manindigan tayo at patunayang ang karapatang mabuhay ay hindi lamang para sa iilan at makapangyarihan. Ito ay regalo ng Dios sa pamamagitan ng pinagmumulan ng lahat ,kay Hesu Kristo na Panginoon at Diyos ng buhay at kasaysayan. Siya ay pumunta upang magbigay buhay at palaguin ito (Juan 10:10).

Kung mahalaga sa atin ang buhay, manindigan tayo upang protektahan ito.  Hindi lamang para sa sariling kapakanan, kundi para sa buong sambayanan at mga susunod na henerasyon ng Sorsoganon na nagmamahal sa kapayapaan, katarungan , hustisya at pagmamahal at kalayaan.

Makialam ka Sorsoganon! SUMABA Ka! (SPEAK OUT) para sa Buhay at Kalayaan!

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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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News Release
January 17, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

More sectors speaking out against Balikatan exercises!
Sorsogon alliance vs Balikatan launched

More and more sectors are now voicing out their opposition against the planned Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region. Now, a Sorsogon-wide group named Sorsoganon United Movement Against Balikatan at Para sa Kapayapaan or SUMABA KA (SPEAK OUT) is launched to demand a stop to the exercises.

According to Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson of the region-wide alliance BAN BALIKATAN, “Aside from people’s organizations and human rights advocates, Sen. Francis Escudero and the Catholic Church in Legazpi have already taken their position. Sen. Escudero pointed out the ‘hidden agenda’ that may be behind the Balikatan exercises and expressed fear that it may be used to interfere with Philippine affairs.

“Meanwhile Bishop Lucilo Quiambao voiced out his view that the Balikatan will just be a bane to Bicolanos because civilians will be the ones caught in the crossfire when US troops are engaged in armed encounters. The bishop also said that prostitution would increase with the presence of US troops and the morality of our youth will be endangered,” said Bisuna.

“It is good that more and more people and organizations are now coming out and standing up against Balikatan 09. It is even better now that an alliance like SUMABA KA has been formed to carry out the campaign against this new type of invasion,” added the patriotic teacher.

“We hope that other formations like these will be formed at the soonest time possible in other Bicol provinces so that we can show the US troops that we do not want them here and we have not forgotten our history,” ended Bisuna.

Here are some choice photos during the SUMABA KA Convenors’ Meeting:

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Prof. Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

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BAN Balikatan

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The convenors of SUMABA KA are the following Fr. Rene Mabute, Sorsogon State College(SSC) President Dr. Antonio Fuentes, Pastor Lemuel Igdanes (UCCP), Atty.Joven Laura, Mr. Lito Bonifacio, Mrs. Elisea Bonifacio (Baptist), Mrs. Jenny Decano, SSC Student Council President Jayboy Evano, Joey Goiz, Red Lasay, Noel Gepulle (KADAMAY), Enrique Ermino (LFS), Mark Rosas (KARATULA), Eduardo Ferreras (PORTA), Reynaldo Hababag (BAYAN), Jing Francisco, Teodoro Escanilla (KARAPATAN), Constantino Jerus (KMP) and Lisa Dugan (UMASA SORSOGON BAY) . # # #

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News Release
Sorsogon City
January 17, 2009

SUMABA KA HOLDS CONVENORS MEETING

SUMABA KA  (Sorsogon United Movement  Against Balikatan for Peace)launches its opening activity against the US-RP Balikatan in the province of Sorsogon with a meeting of its Convenors Group. Pastor Lemuel Igdanes of the UCCP Barcelona, Brother Lito Bonifacio of the Sorsogon Baptist Church and Mr. Eduardo Ferreras, Secretary-General of the Provincial Transport Alliance (PORTA) were elected as Provincial Spokesperson, Spokesperson for the Ist District and 2nd District of Sorsogon, respectively. SUMABA KA is part of BAN BALIKATAN (Bicolano Alliance for Nationalism Against Balikatan), a regional formation of organizations and individuals against Balikatan.

SUMABA KA formulated and affirmed its stand against the conduct of Balikatan in the province, namely: it is a transgression of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity; it is an interference on Philippine internal affairs; it will cause economic dislocations on the farmers and fisherfolks and will cause gross human rights violations within the radius and perimeter of the war exercises; it will contribute to the immense growth of prostitution, the proliferation of prohibited drugs and spread of sexually-transmitted disease in the province and a host of other social problems. Also the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) under whose mandate the Balikatan operates will subsume the local government units under its authority, thus, placing  these LGU’s of a sovereign government under a foreign power.

On January 7, US troops surreptitiously entered the province without observing the customary protocol of courtesy call to the Local Chief Executive of the province, Sangguniang Panlalawigan and church dignitaries which stirred a torrent of protests and consternation among patriotic and civic-spirited citizens from the basic social sectors, church, academe, the professions and local government officials.

The US-RP Balikatan is a joint exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Armed Forces. It has a very bad image and reputation in Mindanao.#

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News Release
January 15, 2009
Reference: Tessa Lopez, public information officer, BAYAN-Bikol

“Gen. Simeon Ola would turn in his grave with Balikatan 09”- BAYAN-Bikol

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bikol (BAYAN-Bikol) said that the famous Bicolano revolutionary hero General Simeon Ola would have a fit when he learns that the US troops he had fought against for so long will not only be welcomed in the region but the red carpet would be rolled out for them by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to Tessa Lopez, public information officer of BAYAN-Bikol, “Gen. Ola, whose name honors the PNP regional camp in Legazpi City is known to be the last Filipino revolutionary general to surrender to the Americans during the Philippine-American War. The brave general would turn in his grave if he knows that the land he so fervently defended would just be opened up to our foreign oppressors,”

“What the AFP and PNP are doing is treason; these US troops trampled on our sovereignty by being here and meddling in our country’s affairs and second, they do not even have the decency to say the real reason for their operations here” added the militant leader.

“Like Gen. Ola we must continuously oppose the presence of US troops in our country. We must voice out our opposition against the Balikatan exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” ended Lopez. # # #

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