“To insist on conducting the US-RP Balikatan military exercises in Mindanao would be courting war and bloodshed in the strife-torn island of Mindanao.”
Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan in support of the resolution authored by Rep. Faysah Dumarpa and Rep. Pangalian Balindong both of Lanao del Sur, the chosen site of this year’s Balikatan. The resolution also states that there should be consultations with local government officials when such activities are to be undertaken in any part of Mindanao.
In the resolution approved today by the Committee on Mindanao Affairs urging the US and Philippine governments to immediately suspend the US-RP Balikatan military exercises, it was further emphasized that the GRP MILF talks be continued and that the suspension of the Balikatan Exercises should be upheld pending resolution of the stalled GRP-MILF negotiations.
“We cannot further underscore the possible impact of the presence of US troops in this country especially in Mindanao. We hope for the immediate passage of this resolution in the plenary and the consequent response that this should evoke from Malacanang and the US government.”
Ilagan who hails from Mindanao said there have been too many unresolved incidents of human rights violations committed by US troops in the course of their stay in Mindanao. “The reported involvement of US personnel in the massacre of civilian residents, including women and children in Maimbung, Sulu, the closure of the district hospital in Panamao and the vehicular accident involving a tricycle driver and a vehicle boarding US troops are but the latest in the long line of complaints against US troops in the island.”
“Their interference into the delivery of basic services, government and military operations and their encroachment into the lives and the territories is an outright display of contempt towards Constitutional provisions on Philippine sovereignty and disrespect for the rights of our people,” 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 forces” #