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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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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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