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News Release

January 9, 2009

Reference: Tessa Lopez, public information officer, BAYAN-Bikol

BAYAN-Bikol: “Balikatan 09 is a disguised intelligence and psywar operation!”

US troops should be declared “persona non grata”

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bikol (BAYAN-Bikol) lambasted the US Armed Forces as well as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for blatantly deceiving the public of the real purpose of Balikatan 09 to be held here in Bicol.

According to Tessa Lopez, public information officer of BAYAN-Bikol, “Both the US troops and the AFP do not respect anything or anybody. First, they 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”

“These US military troops should be declared “persona non grata” by all the governors of the region. If they cannot respect the intelligence of Bicolanos then they would have nothing but contempt for common folk, which will lead to more human rights violations” said Lopez.

“The mere fact that they call their intelligence and psychological warfare operations as “humanitarian missions” is unforgivable. They are using these so-called missions to monitor and gather intelligence against farmers and other people who voice out their opposition against oppressive government policies. The US troops then pass on the intelligence gathered to the AFP to harass or kill these people. This is the height of temerity and is very unbecoming for our so-called visitors. If they are indeed visitors then they should be thrown out,” added the militant leader.

“This again is another reason for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to be junked and not to let another such travesty to our country happen again,” ended Lopez.

Balikatan 09 is the 25th Balikatan exercise since the VFA was signed. # # #

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