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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.

Source:

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=abc2f5ef26f7fad5eaeaf180550420da

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us_troops

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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PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Dean Roland Tolentino, spokesperson
September 15, 2009

Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change calls for the immediate termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), in light of recent revelations by Ret. Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian and statements of high ranking US officials confirming the involvement of US troops in combat operations in the Philippines.

Pagbabago! welcomes the Resolution of the Senate on the Renegotiation or Termination of the VFA, as introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, and already signed by four other senators. The resolution underscored the unconstitutionality of the VFA, challenging the Supreme Court’s decision on the Nicolas v. Romulo in February 2009.

No less than US Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that 600-elite troops are staying in the country for counterinsurgency operations; while Col. Bill Coultrup, Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines describes his task force’s work as 20 percent combat-related, designed to “help the armed forces of the Philippines neutralize high value targets…”

We fully support Ret. Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian in her testimony on US troops’ presence and operations in the Philippines. Ms. Gadian’s statement that US troops have stayed in the Philippines for the last “seven years, 365 days in a year” and, are stationed in permanent structures in various camps in Mindanao, confirms the permanent basing of supposedly ‘visiting’ US troops in the country, in violation of the Philippine Constitution.

Ms. Gadian testified based on her personal knowledge of the US military’s direct role in intelligence operations, by determining enemy targets and their location, and briefing Philippine military officials in conducting operations against these targets. She also attests that US troops are embedded in Philippine military units operating in Mindanao.

Ms. Gadian testified further that US forces unilaterally conduct some of their operations without informing Philippine authorities, in violation of the Constitution and even of the VFA.

We admire Ms. Gadian’s courage in exposing the corruption in the Balikatan exercises and the US troops’ involvement in the country’s internal affairs. With Ms. Gadian’s testimony, there is now factual basis in the latest Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on the Nicolos v. Romulo case pending before the Supreme Court.

The actual conduct and operations of US troops staying in the country refers to the VFA as the legal framework, even if the VFA does not stipulate provisions for permanent basing and joint military exercises such as the Balikatan. For ten years, the VFA has been the basis for the unbridled entry and stay of the US troops in the country.

We call on the other Senators to support the Resolution to abrogate the VFA. Our legislators, especially those vying for higher positions come the 2010 elections, should make clear their stand on the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. #

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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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CA decision acquitting Smith,a very bad precedent!

Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN (09086198971)


Decision tantamount to license for US troops to rape Filipinas

The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) condemned the recent Court of Appeals (CA) decision acquitting convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “this is a complete sell out of Philippine sovereignty and serves as a very bad precedent for the protection of the rights of women. The CA has turned a landmark decision to assert our country’s sovereignty into a farce and almost gave US troops license to rape Filipinas and get away with it,”

“This is very alarming especially now that thousands of US soldiers are in the country. Here in Albay, Bicol the top hotels say that most of their rooms if not all of them are occupied by US troops which number around 400 and at least 2 batches of 8-10 prostituted women are brought to these hotels every night to cater to the carnal desire of the US troops. This situation is very dangerous which is aggravated by the CA decision, US troops may rape even prostituted women with impunity,” said the patriotic professor.

“We believe that extreme pressure was exerted by the US and Philippine governments on the CA to set Smith free and eliminate the thorn on the two countries relation. This is a highly condemnable act because they sacrificed justice and our sovereignty just to preserve the unequal relation of the US and the Philippines. The only way to solve this is to immediately junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and cancel the Balikatan exercises, as well as to ensure that no similar agreements or treaties will be implemented again,” ended Bisuña.

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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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The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) and KARAPATAN-Bikol condemned the killing of a 1 year old child in the Balikatan clearing operations conducted by elements of the 901st Infantry Brigade in Purok 5, Brgy Balanac, Ligao City, Albay.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “This is unforgivable! A child is now gone because the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is targeting Filipino citizens just to please their US foreign master,”

“Rafaela Polborido, 1year and 4 months old, died at midnight of February 19 when she succumbed to the wounds she sustained, when soldiers shot and fired grenade launchers on their house. This is part of the continuing harassment and the violation of Bicolanos’ rights by the military. Recently they also harassed drivers and people in Guinobatan and Jovellar in the same province threatening them against joining the anti-Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) caravan,” said Bisuña.

Meanwhile John Concepcion, spokesperson of KARAPTAN-Bikol said, “not only was Rafaela killed her whole family and others were injured as well, Jocelyn Polborido 30 years old, Ina Polborido 5 years old, Daisy Polborido, 4 years old, Eufemia Polborido, 28 years old, Julius Polborido, 2 years old, Andrea, 4 years old, Rose Dalima 31 years old, Roderick Dalima 5 years old, Mary Rose Dalima, 10 months old and Emerson, 9 years old. We are now assisting the families in whatever action they may take to hold the soldiers accountable,”

“We hope that this is the last, but if the Balikatan continues then we fear that more cases like these may happen,” added Concepcion.

“This is the military’s way to intimidate the Bicolano people into agreeing to the Balikatan exercises, but we will not be cowed. The anti-VFA caravan will continue and we will further intensify our struggle against foreign intervention and to junk the VFA and Balikatan,” ended Bisuña.

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Press Release
Reference: Ken Serrano, Spokeperson of UMALAB-CA

“Visiting Forces Agreement, Ibasura! Manindigan para sa Soberanya at Integridad ng ating Bansa!”

Nitong nakaraang linggo lamang ay dineklara ng Korte Suprema at kinikilala ang Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) na konstitusyonal sa botong 9-4 pabor sa VFA ngunit tanging ang Pilipinas lamang ang kumikilala dito at ang bansang Estados Unidos ay hindi kailangang pilitin na ipatupad dahil walang ratipikasyon na isinagawa ang US sa sarili nitong batas.

Malaking insulto sa ating bansa na ipagpilitan na konstitusyonal ang VFA gayung hindi naman kinikilala ng US ang kasunduang ito laluna sa kinasangkutang kaso ni Lance Corporal Daniel Smith sa usaping kostudiya ng Pilipinas at ikulong sa National Bilibid Prison dahil sa pagkakasala nito sa ating batas sa panggagahasa kay “Nicole”.

Isang malaking hamon ito sa ating mga mambabatas kung kaya’t ang mga kinatawan ng militanteng grupo sa loob ng mababang kapulungan ay naghapag ng resolusyon ang House Resolution 458 that calls for the abrogation of the VFA in light of the many cases of US troops’ violations of Philippine laws (Including the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith) noon pang Pebrero 12, 2008 at hanggang sa ngayon ay patuloy na isinusulong.

Maituturing din na pagyurak ito sa ating Soberanya at Integridad bilang isang bansang nagsasarili ngunit sa esensya ay kontrolado ng Imperyalismong US. Ang VFA ay higit pa sa kanyang pakahulugan sa “Visiting Forces” dahil hindi lamang pagbisita ng mga sundalo ang layunin ng Balikatan kundi  pananatili ng pwersa ng US sa ating bansa sa anumang oras, panahon, panig ng bansa na gugustuhin ng US Troops na mistulang napakalaking base militar ang buong kapuluan ng bansa ng walang limitasyon.

Naniniwala din kami na maninindigan ang ilang makabayang lehislador sa Senado at Kongreso upang hadlangan ang VFA at tuluyang maibasura o maratipika ang mga probisyong makaisang panig na pumapabor lamang sa Estados Unidos at ang sambayanang Pilipino ay titindig upang labanan ang labis na pagsasamantalang ito sa ating bansa.

Mariing tutulan ng UMALAB-CA o Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Balikatan-Camarines Sur Alliance ang Balikatan ’09 sa rehiyong Bikol. Hinihimok din namin ang mga makabayang Bikolano na manindigan laban sa Balikatan ’09 at VFA.

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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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