Posted 3:20 p.m., September 16, 2008
DAVAO CITY — A militant group here protested the Arroyo administration’s support for the presence of US troops in Mindanao during the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the Senate vote rejecting the extension of the RP-US Military Bases Treaty.
The Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), in a rally, condemned the Arroyo administration’s “complacence amidst consistent reports that reveal the direct participation of US troops in actual combats such as that of the military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the MILF.”
Bayan also slammed the Balikatan exercises that have been taking place in some parts of Mindanao since the ratification of the VFA in 1999 saying “Balikatan legitimizes US troops’ permanent presence in the country.”
“We are being made to believe that their presence are all for humanitarian missions when the truth speaks of happenings that manifest US military intervention in the country’s internal security affairs,” said Makpil Camacho, Bayan-SMR secretary-general.
Bayan-SMR also noted the existence of headquarters for the US-headed Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in Camp Navarro which is the camp of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.
“US military presence in the country is a manifestation of many things aside from the apparent inutility of the Arroyo regime (in securing) the nation and the people’s safety,” said Makpil.
The Bayan-SMR leader added that the history of the Philippines under direct US colonial rule shows that US interests lie in the nation’s resources.
Bayan-SMR is calling for a Senate investigation on what appears to be a permanent basing of the US troops in Mindanao. “We also urge the people to stay vigilant and be responsive to the calls to end US interventionism,” Camacho added.