Posts Tagged ‘balikatan exercises’

MANILA — The recent deaths of two US soldiers in Sulu have strengthened calls for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Staff Sgt. Jack Martin and Sgt. First Class Christopher Shaw were killed together with a Philippine Marine identified only as a Private First Class Estrada on Sept. 28 when their vehicle struck a landmine in Barangay Kagay, Indanan town, Sulu.

Members of the Mindanao-based human rights group Kawagib visited Sulu in the wake of the Sept. 28 explosion and reported being informed by residents of Barangay Kagay that the vehicle which carried Martin, Shaw and Estrada was on its way to Barangay Batu-Bato, also in Indanan, transporting supplies.

“But they didn’t know what kind of supplies these were,” Kawagib secretary-general Bai Ali Indayla told Bulatlat in an interview. “These could have been food; these could also have been bullets.”

Kawagib members also reported that since the explosion, the military has conducted indiscriminate aerial bombings not only in Indanan, but also in nearby Panamao. A bridge leading to Maimbung and Parang was also shelled.

According to Indayla, the deaths of Martin and Shaw have raised fears among Sulu’s residents that the US may intervene and cause the escalation of the armed conflict in their province. “In fact, so many have evacuated for fear of being caught in the crossfire,” she told Bulatlat.

Indayla said the deaths of Martin and Shaw only serves to underscore the urgency of abrogating the VFA.

Passed by the Philippine Senate in 1999 and signed that same year by then President Joseph Estrada, the VFA grants extraterritorial and extrajudicial “rights” to US servicemen visiting the Philippines. It made possible the Balikatan military exercises, which have been held annually since 2002; and is also invoked to justify the presence of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

The VFA has several times courted controversy in the last decade, with critics assailing it for violating sovereignty, among other reasons. Others have also pointed to the social costs of US military presence in the Philippines, not the least of which, they say, are the rise in prostitution and other forms of abuse against women.

The explosion that killed Martin, Shaw, and Estrada took place just days after the passage of a Senate resolution calling for the renegotiation or termination of the VFA.

On Sept. 23, the Senate passed without objection Senate Resolution No. 1356 calling for a renegotiation or termination of the VFA. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA (Lovfa), sponsored the resolution, with senators Rodolfo Biazon, Joker Arroyo, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan II, Panfilo Lacson, and Francis Pangilinan as co-sponsors.

But for Roland Simbulan, an expert on Philippine-US foreign and military relations, the call should go beyond renegotiation.

“Why just renegotiate when we do not need an onerous treaty like this?” Simbulan said in an interview with Bulatlat. “The call should be for immediate abrogation.”

Among the issues Santiago raised in her sponsorship speech for SR 1356 was that of the length of time that US troops are allowed to stay in the Philippines. This is an issue on which the VFA is silent. The VFA’s preamble merely states that “from time to time elements of the United States armed forces may visit the Republic of the Philippines.” Within the VFA, the term “United States personnel” is defined as “United States military and civilian personnel temporarily in the Philippines in connection with activities approved by the Philippine Government.”

“In the language of constitutional law, the VFA is void for vagueness, because it fails to define the terms ‘visit,’ ‘temporary,’ and ‘military activities,’” Santiago said. “Under the vagueness doctrine, it is impermissible for a statute to delegate basic policy matters to administrators, to such a degree as to lead to arbitrary and discriminatory application.”

According to Simbulan, the issue goes beyond the length of time that US troops can stay in the Philippines.

“First, there is the issue of unequal treatment before our own laws,” Simbulan said. “Why should groups of armed foreign soldiers entering our territory be given special rights and privileges like exemption from our immigration, customs and quarantine laws, exemption from berthing and port fees, Land Transportation Office requirements, and even being given special treatment in case of violations of our criminal laws or other laws in the country? There is no reciprocity for these rights and privileges that we have given them, which are not even accorded to foreign diplomats.”

Second, Simbulan added, “why are we allowing and even inviting foreign troops to interfere with our internal problems like kidnapping cases, and other peace and order problems? Rebellion and insurgency are also internal problems that our government is asking them to interfere in clandestinely. Otherwise, why are the Balikatan joint training exercises which are ostensibly the ‘activities’ being covered by the VFA being held in the most volatile areas of our country? If these were purely for military training purposes, then they should be held outside the conflict areas like in the Philippine Army training camps in Nueva Ecija or in Tanay, Rizal.”

He said that “under the cover or let me even call it camouflage of the VFA and Balikatan, we have allowed foreign troops to engage in secret combat operations for counter-insurgency, even allowing them to construct ‘forward operating bases’ inside Philippine Army camps, which is a violation of the Philippine Constitution. Official US documents call them ‘forward operating bases’, but US Embassy officials here and the Armed Forces of the Philippines still deny that they are bases.”

Allowing them to engage in counterinsurgency in both covert or overt ways is already in violation of the Constitution, Simbulan said. “US specialists in counterinsurgency, covert operations, psy-ops and intelligence from the elite units of the US Army are already here actively involved in combat by being embedded in many combat units of the local armed forces. But usually, they engage in their own ‘surgical missions’ independently. This is a transgression of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he pointed out.

“So the issue of their length of time in their stay here is an issue, but not the fundamental issue. They can always skirt this issue by rotating their troops for a specified time but keep their presence all year round, as they have been doing since 2002 in the permanent military bases and facilities worth more than $14 million that they have constructed.”

A press release by the US Department of Defense described Martin and Shaw as being “in the Philippines supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name given to the US government’s military response to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City. It entails a series of anti-“terrorism” activities in Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, Trans-Sahara, and Pakinsi Gorge.

The Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign military presence in the country, “except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

The US government does not recognize the VFA as a treaty, but merely considers it an “executive agreement”.

“For us, the VFA should have been abrogated a long time ago,” Indayla said. “With this incident that claimed the lives of two American soldiers, residents of Sulu are fearful that the war in their province will escalate.” (Bulatlat.com)

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MANILA–The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States became engulfed in controversy among lawmakers in the Philippines, especially after two U.S. military advisers were killed in a land mine explosion in Jolo province last week.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a staunch advocate for its abrogation, said that “the soldiers weren’t supposed to be there, as their presence in the alleged land mine made the area a war zone.” Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco begged to disagree. Cuenco asserted that the Americans play a vital role in countering terrorism. Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Antonion Cerilles argued that the Americans were victims because they were on their way to do humanitarian works and were not in combat.

It is unavoidable for Filipinos to have mixed feelings about having U.S. troops on Philippine soil. The agreement, which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, carries with it special rights and privileges for U.S. soldiers and civil employees of the U.S. Department of Defense.



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MANILA — Amid the depressing devastation caused by typhoon Ondoy, the frantic relief efforts, and the Arroyo government’s disappointing display of its inability to act swiftly and decisively to help save Filipinos in distress as well as mitigate the sufferings of those affected by the storm, the story about another brewing storm hit the headlines. Two American soldiers were killed by a blast from an improvised explosive device as their vehicle, a Humvee, was traversing the road between Kagay and Bato-bato, in Indanan town in Sulu on Sept. 29.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago immediately called for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). She said this proved that US troops were in a battle area and were taking part in combat operations against separatist insurgents. This was denied by the US embassy, saying that the American soldiers were merely inspecting the area where they plan to build a school.

However, events prior to and after the blast that killed the American soldiers prove otherwise. First, Major General Ben Dolorfino, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, admitted that a 45-minute firefight between government forces and unidentified gunmen occurred in Barangay Bitanag in Panamao, Sulu, before the blast that killed the US soldiers. While Panamao is in another side of the island, Jolo is a small island with a land area of only 894 square kilometers.

Second, at around 11 a.m. of the same day, a mere two and a half hours after the blast that killed the two American soldiers, a small bridge in Sitio Dauyan, Barangay Bunot, also in Indanan town, was bombed. Earlier, Sept. 25, a bridge in Bato-bato, Indanan,
was also bombed. Dolorfino explained that these two bombings were “retaliatory attacks” by the Abu Sayyaf because the AFP had “decided to launch offensive action on Sept. 20.”

A day after the blast that killed the two, more American soldiers arrived supposedly to help in relief efforts in flood-stricken areas, a move that raised suspicions that they might participate later in retaliatory action against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

What are the implications of the death of the two American soldiers? Will this result in an escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines much like what happened in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975?

At the minimum, the death of the two American soldiers emphasized the urgency of abrogating the VFA. Clearly, the incident proved that US soldiers are indeed embedded in AFP units conducting combat operations.

There would be retaliatory action from US forces, that’s for sure. However, without precluding the probability of an escalated US military intervention in the future, there seems to be not enough reason yet for the US to pour in troops at the scale it did in Vietnam from 1964-75. The current level of US involvement and positioning in the country, in general, and Mindanao, in particular, is still well within its current defense strategy and policy. It has unlimited access to AFP facilities and has built support infrastructure for its operations. It has command over a surrogate army, the AFP, while practicing its small unit Special Forces operations, as well as joint combat operations. And its interests are well-protected by the Arroyo government.

Actually, the US does not need the death of its soldiers if it wanted to escalate its war of aggression. It just needs to invent a hoax as justification. The supposed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction of former Iraq president Saddam Hussein, which was made the justification by the US to gather support for its plan to attack Iraq, was proven to be nonexistent.

In Vietnam, the Aug. 4, 1964, Gulf of Tonkin incident — where US Navy destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy reported that they were being attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats — was proven to be false. Within hours, then US president Lyndon Johnson ordered air strikes on Hanoi. Although, wrote Edwin Moise in his book Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the War in Vietnam, an actual battle did occur between the Maddox and three North Vietnamese torpedo boats on Aug. 2, no Vietnamese were near the two warships on Aug. 4. By Aug. 7, the US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the president the authority to “take all necessary measures.” The resolution was cited by Johnson when he ordered the escalation of the war in 1965.

In 1964, the US had 16,000 military advisers stationed in South Vietnam. By late 1965, the US had increased its troop strength in Vietnam to 180,000. By mid-1966, US troops in the country numbered 350,000. In 1967, US troops in Vietnam reached almost half a million.

The number of US troops and advisers in the Philippines is still far from this, although through the VFA, they have already maintained a continuing presence. But US military intervention could escalate if Washington feels that its interests in the country are being threatened either by an anti-imperialist revolutionary organization or by a government that genuinely prioritizes the interests of its citizens over that of a foreign government.

If the Filipino people want to prevent this from happening, we could start by working for the abrogation of all treaties and agreements that enables US troops to operate in the country, such as the VFA and the Mutual Defense Treaty. We could also declare before the international community that we are for an independent foreign policy that renounces any form of aggression and intervention by one country over another. Only then could we make it politically costly for the US to escalate its intervention in the affairs of the country now and in the future. (Bulatlat.com)

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10 years after, why are US troops still here?

MANILA, Philippines—“Life will go on” in the event the country junks the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Sunday.

Santiago said in a dzBB radio interview Sunday that she would seek the scrapping of the pact altogether should the US reject proposals to renegotiate the VFA.

Santiago, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee, said she would have its members sign on Tuesday the committee report containing the findings and recommendations of the just-concluded Senate hearing into the VFA.

She said she would then sponsor a resolution on the floor “expressing the sense of the Senate that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs should seek to renegotiate the VFA with the US, and in case of denial, that we should give notice of its termination.”

“We want Foreign Secretary (Alberto) Romulo to ask the US embassy to discuss the VFA because of questions over whether US troops do engage in combat operations here instead of just training our soldiers,” Santiago said.

According to Santiago, there were also questions as to why after 10 years, US troops were still here when the agreement was only supposed to be a “visiting forces” pact.

“If they don’t want to negotiate with us, then we can give them notice,” she said, pointing out that as provided for in the VFA, the agreement may be abrogated by either party giving six months’ notice.

Pass in plenary

Santiago expressed confidence that members of her committee would support the resolution. She believes all the senators would also approve the resolution.

“I think it will pass (in the plenary) because it’s not calling for the outright termination of the VFA but a renegotiation…If they don’t want to renegotiate, we don’t have a choice but to terminate it,” she said.

The Senate resolution would then be transmitted for the consideration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has the sole power to terminate the agreement.

Last week, Santiago called for a Senate hearing into the VFA following announcements by US defense officials that they had decided to keep a 600-member US special force in the country indefinitely.

After the hearing, Santiago said she would push for the abrogation of the treaty because it was “very vague” since it seemed to allow US troops to get involved in combat operations against the enemies of the state.

Reports that American forces had engaged in combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandit group in Mindanao as early as 2002 should be looked into by the Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, Malacañang said Saturday.

“These reports should be looked into by the appropriate body, and the appropriate body is the VFA Commission,” said Press Secretary Cerge Remonde over radio dzRB.

Shot by black soldier

Civilian accounts had surfaced as early as 2002 that US soldiers joined Philippine troops in operations against the Abu Sayyaf in the jungles of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, according to reports.

Buyung-buyung Isnijal, a farmer, claimed he was shot by a “black” soldier during a July 25, 2002, raid on his home in Tuburan town by elements of the 18th Infantry Battalion. Isnijal was a suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit.

Investigation by the Commission on Human Rights found that an African-American soldier, Sgt. Reggie Lane, had been assigned with the 18th IB in Lamitan, Basilan.

“We have to establish if that’s true. That should be investigated. It’s easy to concoct stories,” Secretary Raul Gonzalez, presidential chief legal counsel, said in a phone interview.

If proven true, Gonzalez said this could be grounds to seek a review of the VFA, which came into force in 1999.

He had earlier said he would ask President Arroyo to convince the US government

to agree to a review, and if possible, a renegotiation.

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SA CLEARING OPERATIONS NG BALIKATAN, buhay at kabuhayan na ang nasasalanta ng kalamidad na dulot ng mapaminsalang mga operasyong militar ng 9th ID na ang layunin ay ma-secure umano ang mga eryang paglulunsaran ng US-RP Balikatan exercises sa Bikol.

Balikatan Clearing Operations sa Albay, pinaslang ang isang sanggol.

Sa tuluy-tuloy na clearing operations sa mga barangay ng Ligao City, napaslang ang isang taon at apat na buwang sanggol na si Rafaela Polborido noong Pebrero 18. Namatay ang sanggol dahil sa matinding tama ng shrapnel mula sa bombang pinasabog ng pasistang tropa ng 901st IB na pinamumunuan ng isang upisyal ng AFP na may nameplate na Flordeliza.

Ayon mismo sa mga Brgy Official ng Brgy Balanac, walang habas na nagpaputok ng baril at nagpalipad ng mga grenade launcher ang mga militar.

Walang crossfire na nangyari. Kapalpakan ng militar ang pagpasabog ng isang grenade launcher sa bahay ng mga sibilyan. Sugatan ang apat pang bata at ang ina ng sanggol na si Jocelyn Polborido. Nakisilong lamang ang mag-iina nang biglang sumabog ang bomba mula sa bubong ng bahay na kanilang tinutuluyan. Naging abo ang bahay na nasabugan ng bomba.

Naganap ang pasistang krimen na ito habang nagsasagawa ng clearing operations ang mga militar sa mga barangay na malapit sa  Brgy. Paulba, kung saan isasagawa ang  Medical Action Program (Medcap) ng Balikatan.

Sa Albay, isinasagawa ngayon ang malawakang clearing operations para sa Balikatan war exercises. Nakapwesto ang tropa ng 49th IB sa Brgy. San Francisco, Legazpi City. Ayon sa pahayag ni  Maj Gen Jeffrey Sodusta ng 9th ID, ito ang magsisibilbing security force para sa Balikatan.

Ang pinatinding operasyong militar sa Albay ay nagdudulot na ng dislokasyon sa mga komunidad. Hindi na rin makapagtrabaho nang normal ang mga magsasaka dahil sa takot sa mga nag-ooperasyong militar.

Militarisasyon sa mga kostal na barangay.

Takot at pangamba ang nadarama ng mga residente sa mga aktibidad ng Special Operations Team (SOT) ng 901st IB sa mga kostal na barangay ng Legazpi City. Nababahala ang mga residente sa pinapatupad na curfew at sa mga pagpapatawag ng Philippine Army sa mga Barangay Council. Pinipilit silang dumalo sa mga pulung-pulong kung saan nagsasalita ang Civic Military Operation (CMO) unit ng militar. Binabantaan sila ng mga militar, huwag daw lumahok sa anumang pagkilos laban sa  Balikatan. Nahaharap sa ganitong sitwasyon ang mahigit 50 barangay sa Legazpi City.

Sa bayan ng Sto Domingo, pinatawag din ng commanding officer ng 901st IB ang lahat ng Barangay Kapitan. Ginigipit ang mga residente ng Brgy Salvacion, Lidong at San Andres, na binabansagan ng militar na hotspots diumano at may presensya ng NPA. Nababahala din ang mga residente sa pagtatayo ng military detachment sa Brgy Salvacion.

Sa Tabaco City, nangangamba ang mga residente sa pagdagsa ng mga tropa ng militar mula noong Pebrero. Militarisado ang Brgy. Baranghawon, Bongabong, San Roque, Quinastillohan, Bantayan at Tabiguian.

Sa bayan ng Tiwi na halos lahat ng baranggay ay nasa kostal, pinipilit ang mga residente na dumalo sa mga pulung-pulong ng CMO unit ng militar para sa Balikatan. Pilit na ipinapatanggap sa mamamayan na humanitarian mission lang diumano ang aktibidad nito.

Malinaw na ang mga aktibidad ng SOT ay bahagi ng isang sistematikong kampanya sa psychological operations para ikubli ang tunay na pakay ng Balikatan, ang gera at ang pang-uupat ng gera.

Mantinido rin ang presensya ng mga tropa ng militar sa mga kostal na barangay ng Malinao, Malilipot, Bacacay at Manito, Albay. Nananalasa rin ang pinatinding operasyong militar sa mga kostal barangay na nakaharap sa Pacific ocean.

Nauna nang idineklara ni  Major Ramon Zagala, ang tagapagsalita ng Balikatan-09 na aabot sa 5,500 to 6,000 US troops ang lalahok sa war games na gaganapin sa Silangang bahagi ng Bikol.

Apektado na ang kabuhayan ng mga mangingisda. Dahil sa takot at pangamba sa presensya ng napakaraming militar sa tabing dagat, nililimita na ang pang-ekonomyang aktibidad ng mga mangingisda.

Dagdag pa, ang ipinapatupad na fishing ban ng BFAR. Kahit paulit-ulit na idinideklara ng tagapagsalita ng 901st IB na wala itong kaugnayan sa Balikatan, hindi nila itinatanggi na mayroong security measures sa mga pantalan na pagdadaungan ng mga US warship. Hindi pa man dumadaong ang mga barko ng tropang US, ramdam na ng mga mangingisda ang gutom at panganib.

Nararapat na harapin ng tapang at paglaban ang mas mabangis at mapaminsalang Balikatan clearing operations ng militar sa kanayunan at kalunsuran ng Bikol.

Ilantad at Labanan ang mga abusong militar ng 9th ID at US troops

Hustisya at bayad pinsala sa mga biktima ng Balikatan clearing operations!

Bikolanong makabayan, magkaisa at lumaban!

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News Release
February 14, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

BAN BALIKATAN fully agrees with former SC chief Panganiban
Vows to intensify fight against VFA and Balikatan exercises

The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) fully agrees with former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in his call to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and to treat Smith like any other accused.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “We are one with former CJ Panganiban in saying that the VFA violates our Constitution. Panganiban says that it is unconstitutional because the United States does not recognize and honor it as a treaty the way the Philippines does, but we add that aside from this it also tramples on our sovereignty,”

“Through the VFA the US has been conducting Balikatan exercises that have mobilized US troops in our country. They have also conducted surveillance and combat operations which have blatantly interfered with our internal affairs,” added Bisuña.

“Consequently, to hide the true purpose of the Balikatan exercises, the US soldiers along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines conduct so-called “humanitarian missions”. It would be naïve for us to think that the US Special Forces came here to Bicol just to deliver their dole-outs. They have clear strategic military objectives along the lines of securing US political and military interests,” said the patriotic professor.

“Our freedom and sovereignty is definitely worth more than a few token medical and engineering missions and many of our countrymen have died fighting for it. It is our duty then to defend it and intensify the campaign against the VFA and the Balikatan exercises” ended Bisuña. # # #

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News Release
February 10, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

“US troops combat operations in Bicol imminent!”-BAN BALIKATAN
US soldiers now conducting illegal census in Sorsogon and Masbate

The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) lambasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US armed forces for laying the grounds for combat operations in the region and for trying to fool Bicolanos about it.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “It is really insulting that the AFP and the US troops are belittling the collective intelligence of us Bicolanos. They have been trying to fool us all along but their spokespersons do not coordinate so their real intent has been exposed by their own statements. The Balikatan has not yet started but there are already so many violations, what more if it is in full swing.

“First let us start with the Filipino spokesperson of Balikatan exercises, according to Maj. Ramon Zagala, 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,” said Bisuña.

“Second, 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,” added the patriotic professor.

“Third, 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,” she said.

“Fourth, this time according to the Executive Agent for the Balikatan exercises, Col. Rodolfo Santiago, US troops are conducting “census” in Sorsogon because it is necessary to identify potential beneficiaries of the Balikatan projects like civil works, medical and dental missions and rehabilitation and construction of facilities.

The US Troops were seen at Bgy. Liyang in Irosin, Sorsogon and in Bgy Mayngaran, Masbate City, Bgy Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate province.

BUt everybody knows this is not part of the “humanitarian missions”, continued the professor

“The Balikatan has not yet started, but there are already so many deceiving statements about its real activities and motives,” ended Bisuña. # # #

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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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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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Kabataang Pinoy-Bikol Statement:
Reference: Journey Alfonso, Spokesperson


Kaming mga Kabataang Bikolano ng KABATAANG PINOY ay maigting na tumututol sa pagpasok ng Balikatan exercises sa Kabikulan. Walang ibang hatid ang pagdating ng tropang militar ng Kano kundi ang pamamaslang, paninira at pangwawasak ng kabuhayan at mismong buhay nating mga Bikolano.

Hindi makakatulong sa pag asenso ng ating rehiyon at bansa ang tropang militar ng Kano. Bagkus, lalo lang iigting ang kaguluhan. Kung talagang “Humanitarian Mission” lamang ang kanilang sadya, bakit hindi ang Red Cross na lamang ang maglunsad nito? Pinalalabas lamang nila na Humanitarian Mission ang pakay upang malinlang ang mga tao at malaya nilang magawa ang tunay na anti-mamamayang misyon sa ating rehiyon.

Siguradong lalaganap na naman ang paglabag sa mga Karapatang Pantao sa ating bansa. Hindi pa ba sapat ang sakripisyo’t kahihiyan na dinanas ni Nicole at kanyang pamilya sa kamay ni Smith at iba pang kasamahang sundalong Kano? Napatunayan nga ng hukuman na nagkasala ang Amerikanong sundalong ito at nahatulan ng habambuhay na pagkabilanggo,ngunit ngayon ay pinalaya at nakabalik na sa sariling bayan.

Ang kaso ni Nicole na isang kabataang Pilipina ay pagpapatunay sa pagpoprotekta ng tropang Kano ng Balikatan. Hindi makatarungan ang batas. Ang nangyari kay Nicole ay maaring maulit kung hahayaan na lamang natin ang paglulunsad ng Balikatan Exercises dito sa Bikol.

Tutulan natin ang Balikatan, para sa katahimikan ng Bikol. Tutulan natin ang Balikatan at siguarduhing hindi na lumala pa ang talamak na prostitusyon, droga, sex scandals, pang aabuso, at mismong pagyurak sa Karapatang Pantao nating mga Bikolano. Tutulan natin ang Balikatan upang hindi na mas lumala pa ang pagdanak ng dugo ng maraming sibilyan. Huwag nating hayaang makapasok ang Tropang Kano sa ating Rehiyon na maaring magpakalat ng mga sakit tulad ng AIDS, Syphilis, atbpang klase ng sexually transmitted diseases o STD.

Hindi ang Balikatan Exercises ang sagot sa kahirapan, at hindi ito ang solusyon sa kagutuman. Huwag tayong magbulag-bulagan, alamin natin ang magiging epekto nito sa ating bayan. Huwag basta paniwalaan ang kasinungalingang sinasabi ng gobyerno, na makakatulong ito, at ito ay para rin sa ating kapakanan, dahil alam naman nating pansariling interes lamang ang iniisip ng may mga katungkulan sa gobyerno at hindi ang kapakanan nating mga mamamayang sibilyan.

Huwag hayaang dalhin sa Bicol ang gerang nangyayari na sa Mindanao,

Maigting nating isigaw: NO TO BALIKATAN!!!

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