Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luz Ilagan and Liza Maza are
backing Mindanao groups and communities calling for the cancellation
of the Balikatan and the termination of the RP-US Visiting Forces
Agreement. Balikatan 2008, which kicks off today brings at least 6,000
US Troops for military exercises in North Cotabato, areas of Northern
Mindanao, Sulu and Basilan.

“Year after year, the US-RP Balikatan leaves a trail of human rights
violations that remain unresolved. We join the people of Mindanao in
calling for an end to the Balikatan 2008 and the Visiting Forces

Rep. Ilagan who hails from Mindanao cited the recent case of US troops
forcibly closing down the Panamao Distric Hospital in Sulu, thus
denying much needed health care to residents of nearby communities.
“We refuse to accept this outright interference into the operations of
local institutions and the delivery of basic services. Clearly they
have no respect of people’s rights and no recognition of Philippine
sovereignty, ” said Ilagan

Last January 24, the women’s partylist group led the filing of House
Resolution 417 “Directing the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
investigate the apparent blatant disregard of our Philippine
sovereignty and Constitution when American Soldiers who are in the
country through the RP – US Visiting Forces Agreement reportedly
ordered the closure of Panamao District Hospital in Sulu and recommend
measures towards the termination of the VFA in the light of said
incident and other violations of Human Rights committed against the
Filipino people and the Philippine Constitution by the U.S military

The Gabriela solons also stressed this is not the first time that US
troops were involved in violations. “In 2002, Buyong-buyong Isnijal
was shot by a US soldier, Sgt. Reggie Lane in Basilan. This case,
including several other remain unresolved to this day.”

“We urge immediate action on HR 417 in as much as we call for justice
for the victims of US troops and vigilance among our people especially
in Mindanao.” #


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Filed under Mindanao, News Release, Visiting Forces

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