Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 25 July 28 - August 3, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
The Americans violated at least two provisions in the TOR: the prohibition on U.S. soldiers from joining actual combat operations and the provision that says they can only fire in self-defense. “The Isnijal family did not present any clear and present danger to the American and Filipino troops. There was no reason to fire upon unarmed civilians,” BAYAN Spokesperson Renato Reyes said.
CARLOS H. CONDE
The shooting incident in Basilan allegedly involving a US soldier elicited outrage from militant groups and other sectors, with no less than two Bayan Muna representatives demanding a congressional inquiry into the matter.
Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, who led the International Solidarity Mission in Zamboanga and Basilan, said in a statement this weekend that "there really should be no more debate about the correctness of allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country. This is in direct and brutal violation of the very Terms of Reference they said they would obey. An armed American soldier has forced himself into the home of a civilian family, shooting a civilian and then virtually abducting him. This is an outrage for which the American and Philippine governments should take responsibility for."
Bayan Muna Rep. Liza Maza, for her part, said "The trauma suffered by Juraida, her mother-in-law and the two children cannot be immediately erased. These troops, especially the African-American, should be court-martialed and jailed. We demand that the Southern Command immediately surrender these three soldiers and return Buyong-Buyong to the safety of his family."
The Inquirer quoted Maza as saying: "Our worst fears have materialized. US soldiers are now involved in police operations in our country." The paper also quoted Ocampo: "It was very evident that the Americans are intruding in Philippine internal affairs."
Maza and Ocampo promised to initiate a congressional investigation. Ocampo said "even if it wasn't Reggie Lane who shot Buyong-buyong as the SouthCom now alleges, Lane and his two fellow American troops should not have even been there in the first place."
Ocampo added that "the attack was not a legitimate military operation because they carried neither warrant nor concrete proof that Isnijal is guilty of anything. This incident strongly belies the assertions of the Philippine military top brass led by Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, AFP chief of Staff Gen. Roy Cimatu and national security adviser Roilo Golez and the U.S. military command in the country that U.S. troops are not involved in the conduct of military operations in the Philippines."
He said that the ISM delegation intends to go to the Southcom headquarters in Zamboanga City to demand Buyong-buyong's release and the surrender of the troops involved in the shooting and the abduction. They would also call for the dismissal from service of the troops.
Bayan spokesperson Renato Reyes Jr. said the incident could be "another case" of a Filipino " being mistaken for a wild boar," referring to the shooting by an American soldier of an Aeta in Subic, Zambales, in the '80s; the soldier had said that he thought the Aeta was a wild boar.
"We have always warned the public of incidents such as this: that the US troops have a long list of human rights violations since the military bases were in the Philippines, and despite their endless assurance of our safety while they are around, we are now reminded of how 'friendly' they can be," Reyes said in a statement.
The Americans, A Bayan spokesperson said, violated t least two provisions in the TOR: the prohibition on U.S. soldiers from joining actual combat operations and the provision that says they can only fire in self-defense. "The Isnijal family did not present any clear and present danger to the American and Filipino troops. There was no reason to fire upon unarmed civilians," Reyes said.
"We are worried that the Philippine government will not seek justice for this grave humans rights abuse. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Philippine government will most likely surrender its criminal jurisdiction over the case. Such is the one-sidedness of the agreements we have entered with the U.S.," Reyes lamented.
Reyes said that with "Amboy" (America's Boy) Blas Ople as Foreign Affairs secretary, "expect our policy-makers to again side-step the issue. Despite what has happened, the Arroyo administration is hell-bent on approving the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement which will ensure prolonged U.S. military presence in the country. This will pave the way for more incidents like this to happen."
Lakbay Kalinaw, a group of militants participating in the ISM, said in a joint statement that it views the incident with "utmost concern" because it "bodes ill for the cause of sovereignty and genuine peace in our country."
It said the Isnijal shooting "is the first proof of direct U.S. involvement in combat operations that we believe has been happening since the start of the Balikatan military exercises last January but has been kept secret by the Philippine and U.S. authorities."
"This kind of activity," the statement said, "cannot and should not be tolerated. It is a direct violation of the Constitution and poses a dangerous precedent, especially with more Balikatan exercises lined up, where US troops will be deployed in many more regions of the country. This opens the way for more U.S. military intervention in our shores."
Lakbay Kalinaw said this scenario "is most likely to happen, now that the Amboy Sen. Blas Ople has been appointed secretary of foreign affairs. Ople's role has been cut out for him: expedite the approval of the MLSA and other policies and agreements that will help America regain its forward presence in Southeast Asia."
It said that "Ople is a necessary element in the Arroyo-Bush conspiracy. His Amboy mentality is sure to make things easier for US to advance its imperialist agenda via the deceptive anti-terrorist crusade. With a trusted lapdog heading ther DFA, the U.S. embassy expectedly congratulated his appointment and looks forward to more favorable political conditions for the MLSA."
It calls Ople "a clear and present danger to whatever is left of the national sovereignty and prospects for peace."
Lakbay Kalinaw said the arrival next week of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell could signal the approval of the MLSA. "This treaty of treason will pave the way for the return of permanent and semi-permanent U.S. military facilities in the country, again in direct violation of the Constitutional ban on US troops, bases and facilities," it said.
Lakbay Kalinaw, also called a "nationwide journey for sovereignty and peace" that will end in Zamboanga City, is composed of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, National Union of Students of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students-National Capital Region, and the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers Rights II (NWPWR II). Bulatlat.com