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Posts Tagged ‘laban sa balikatan’

dsc00013Bicolanos in Metro Manila converge with national militant mass organizations to condemn the Visiting Forces Agreement and protest against the conduct of  Balikatan in Bicol

Bicolanos in Metro Manila converge with national militant mass organizations to condemn the Visiting Forces Agreement and protest against the conduct of Balikatan in Bicol

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The brave, the strong Bikolano faces a new adversary.

ORAGON (Organisadong Bikolano Para Sa Nasyunalismo) LABAN SA BALIKATAN, a formation of Metro Manila-based Bicolanos, has expressed its unity with fellow kababayans to battle against the RP-US Balikatan war exercises in Bicol. Thousands of Bicolanos have already commenced on February 22 a region-wide caravan that will conclude on February 25 with a massive display of protest against the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement and the Balikatan war exercises in Bicol.

The provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate have been identified by the government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as sites for the war games, despite deceiving declarations by the military that only “humanitarian missions” shall be conducted.

ORAGON contends that the Balikatan war exercises, apart from being an explicit encroachment on Philippine sovereignty, likewise amounts to intensified militarization of the Bicol provinces. ORAGON believes that the people of Bicol, however resilient, do not need another disaster in the form of Balikatan, the region having been recently ravaged by supertyphoons, lahar flows and landslides, red tide, and crop infestations.

Past Balikatan experiences have only proven that the poor rural communities bear the brunt of military operations. In fact, a 1-year old baby girl from Barangay Balanac of Ligao, Albay has already been tragically killed when soldiers from the 901st Infantry brigade of the Philippine Army fired grenade launchers during a clearing operation. The operation has also left 9 members of the baby’s family and relatives wounded by shrapnels, and their homes burned. It was found out that Balanac’s neighboring barangay shall be a site for balikatan, hence the military clearing operations.

Balikatan war exercises are inclusions under the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, which ORAGON consequently opposes. For its part, ORAGON vows to contribute to the swelling protests back home against Balikatan. Being composed by students, professionals, and community residents in Metro Manila, the group plans to reach out to more Bicolanos to gather support and give battle to Balikatan in Bicol.

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