“The US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, the threats that it continues to present against our sovereignty and the Filipino people should give us every reason to abrogate this agreement. That these military exercises continue despite its obvious violation of the Philippine Constitution, with the sanction of the Arroyo government, gives us all the more reason to further the calls for her immediate resignation.”
This was the statement issued today by GABRIELA Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan as the US-RP Balikatan Military exercises kicks-off today in various areas in North Cotabato, areas of Northern Mindanao, Sulu and Basilan. The Balikatan brings at least 6,000 more US troops to the island of Mindanao for military exercises and socio-civic projects.
“For several years now, since US troops have begun to inhabit Mindanao, they have left a trail of human rights violations that remain unresolved. We join the people of Mindanao in calling for an end to the Balikatan 2008 and the Visiting Forces Agreement,” said Ilagan.
The Gabriela solon cited the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002, the closing of the Panamao district Hospital in 2007 and the reported participation of US troops in the massacres of civilians in Maimbung, Sulu two weeks ago. Aside from these, there have been reports of US troops arrogantly brandishing their high powered fire arms in public and their participation in intelligence operations.
“The US-RP VFA has transformed not just Mindanao but the entire country into a US military base, allows the permanent presence and operation of US troops in the guise of civic projects and military exercises,” said Ilagan.
“The US-RP VFA and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement which legitimizes US military presence and these military exercises, are all in violation of provisions in the Constitution protecting our national sovereignty, barring nuclear weapons and military base operations, accountability for damages to the environment and the criminal accountability of American soldiers to Philippine courts. We call for the immediate suspension of the ongoing Balikatan as we demand the abrogation of all military treatises with the United States.” #