Text and photos by Ayi Muallam and Ronalyn Olea / Bulatlat.com
On the sixth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, at least 500 activists held a protest rally near the US Embassy and demanded the immediate pull-out of American troops in Iraq and the Philippines.
On March 20, 2003, the Bush administraiton invaded Iraq on the basis of so-called weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein allegedly possessed.
Rita Baua, Bayan international relations officer, said: “It is now an established fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction at all in Iraq. The invasion was thus exposed as nothing more than naked imperialist aggression in furtherance of the economic and political interests of the US.”
Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary-general said, “If Mr. Obama will be pulling out US troops from Iraq as he promised, he should also pull out US troops stationed in the Philippines… Honestly, we don’t see any of the changes he promised. We don’t see the departure from the Bush foreign policies, as far as the Philippines is concerned.”
Last week, Malacanang announced that US President Barack Obama called up President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and expressed satisfaction that the Philippine government continues to uphold the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Signed on May 27, 1999, the VFA provides legal basis for American troops to stay in the country.
The Obama administration has vowed to bring home the US troops in Iraq by September 2010. However, a total of 50,000 troops will remain purportedly to train Iraqi military and police forces. Baua said this is to ensure the protection of US economic and military interests in Iraq.
Obama also increased US troops in Afghanistan.
The groups reiterated their call to abrogate VFA.
(Multimedia producer: Ayi Muallam);