Litany of Offenses
Apart from the economic agenda behind US military presence in the Philippines, Gadian – who was assigned for several years in Mindanao – gave a litany of various offenses committed by US troops in the country.
She said she had received several reports indicating that the US troops in Mindanao were “embedded” within Philippine military units conducting field operations in the area, something that the Constitution disallows.
This statement of Gadian bolsters allegations that US troops have been sighted in encounter sites in Mindanao – most notably during an attack by combined Army and Navy forces in Barangay (village) Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu on Feb. 4, 2008. This attack claimed the lives of eight non-combatants, including an Army soldier on vacation.
The US troops in the Philippines, Gadian said, also join actual operations against “insurgent” or “terrorist” groups. “They help in ‘neutralizing’ high-profile targets,” she said.
Aside from these, Gadian said, US troops in the Philippines routinely conduct intelligence operations through the use of “special intelligence equipment,” and participate in the planning of combat operations.
“Intelligence is part of combat operations,” said Gadian, who claimed to have had direct dealings with some of the American soldiers. “When you use special intelligence equipment, you (are getting to know a certain) target and where he is. Why would you conduct intelligence (work) if not for combat operations? Intelligence is not separate from combat.”
“Conducting intelligence operations and participation in the planning of combat operations are unconstitutional,” said Gadian’s legal counsel, Evalyn Ursua, who also spoke at the Aug. 26 press conference. “Prohibition on foreign military presence means foreign troops should have nothing to do within Philippine territory.”
But that is not all, Gadian said. She revealed that the US troops also conduct various operations and other activities without the knowledge of, let alone clearance from, their Filipino counterparts.
Gadian also said she was a direct witness to several incidents which showed not only the “arrogance” of US soldiers and their civilian employees, but also their “abusive” treatment of Filipinos. “They don’t even call us by their names – they merely make gestures with their fingers, as if they are calling dogs,” she said.
Another issue linked to US troops’ presence in the Philippines, Gadian said, is the exploitation of women. She said she was personally a witness to several instances when US soldiers picked up prostituted women, or when prostituted women went to the soldiers’ hotel rooms. It has reached a point, she said, where the women would even go to Camp Navarro to provide their “services” to the US troops stationed there.
How has the Philippines benefited from the seven-year presence of US troops? Not very much, Gadian said.