Balikatan in Bicol Could Bring Combat Operations

“About 11,000 Bicolanos will benefit from MEDCAP and a total of nine barangays (villages) will benefit from ENCAP.”

These “humanitarian missions”, Bisuna said, are just a facade for the real intent behind holding the Balikatan military exercises in Bicol.

“The so-called humanitarian missions are just a ploy of the AFP and the US troops so that they can hide the true objective of the exercises, which is to conduct surveillance and combat operations,” Bisuna said. “Why else would they bring warships and fighter jets?”

The Feb. 25 DFA “fact sheet” stated that “the civic-humanitarian component of VFA-related exercises also form the backbone of the soft approach to combating terrorism…”

“The different units of the AFP should coordinate what they are saying: their lies are so obvious,” Bisuna added.

Aside from the over 5,000 US troops that Zagala mentioned, also coming in are some 450 members of the US Navy’s 30th Naval Construction Regiment, headed by Capt. Kelly Schmader. They are to provide “humanitarian aid” through engineering works in Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon, according to Schmader.

Schmader began his duty as commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment on June 20, 2008 – following stints as Commander of the 31st Seabee Readiness Group, Commanding Officer of the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center, and Deputy Commander for operations of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia. His previous posts include those of Commanding Officer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, Port Hueneme, California; Real Property Maintenance and Energy Branch Head, Shore Activities Division and Chief of Naval Operations staff, Washington, D.C.; Assistant Public Works Officer, Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy; Operations Officer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Port Hueneme, California; Resident Officer-in-Charge of Construction, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard; CEC Junior Officer Detailer, Naval Military Personnel Command, Washington, D.C.; Material Liaison Officer and Alpha Company Commander, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3; and Assistant Public Works Officer, Naval Weapons Station, Earle, Colts Neck, New Jersey.

The 30th Naval Construction Regiment is part of the US Navy’s several Construction Battalions (CBs or “Seabees”), which have historically carried out construction projects in countries where the US was also conducting military campaigns (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Bosnia), based on an item posted at the US Navy’s official website.

Protesters in Bicol burn 25 US flags on the last day of an anti-Balikatan caravan in Bicol. Photo from BAN Balikatan . (Photo from BAN Balikatan)

“Infrastructure work is definitely needed in Bicol but this is the job of the local government as well as the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways),” Bisuna said when asked to comment on the “engineering works” to be carried out during the Balikatan military exercises in Bicol. “There is no need for US troops to come here for that.”

“Mere token medical and engineering missions are not worth our freedom and sovereignty,” Bisuna concluded. (

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