Anti-VFA rally in Manila in support of the BAN-BALIKATAN caravan in Bicol

condemns the balikatan exercises in the Bicol provinces

 

February 25, 2009

 

See also:

 

Legazpi City - BAN-BALIKATAN: "Anti-VFA Caravan a Resounding Success! Protesters Burn 25 US flags!”, Feb. 26, 2009

 

 

 

   

For video clips and photos of the anti-VFA caravan in Bicol, go to this page:

http://banbalikatan.wordpress.com/

/p

/p
           

 

Anti-VFA caravan update
8 am February 24, 2009
References: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson, BAN
BALIKATAN, 09086198971
Jariz Vida, secretary general, BAYAN Muna- Camarines Sur

Military harassment against anti-VFA caravan intensifies!
Local BM leader's life threatened

The military harassment against the anti-Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) caravan has been intensifying since last night, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) even using dump trucks and fire trucks to block the caravan. Now, the blocking soldiers are in full
battle gear and they even fielded operatives to specifically harass and threaten Jariz Vida, secretary general of BAYAN Muna-Camarines Sur.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisna, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, "the AFP is really getting desperate to sabotage our caravan, now they are resorting to sinister tactics to frighten the participants.

In Brgy. Sioton, Magallanes, Sorsogon, 20 elements of the 3rd and 7th Scout Ranger Company forcibly took our coal for cooking and threw it on the road. They also tried to confiscate our rice. They also threatened a driver not to join the caravan anymore and just to go home,”“Last night around 6pm the military has deployed at least 50 police and soldiers in full battle gear and they even sabotaged the program by not allowing it to start until 9 pm and surrounded the south contingent in Rizal Park, Sorsogon City," added Bisuña.

"They also fielded intelligence agents to infiltrate our ranks, but they were unsuccessful in Sorsogon. While in the north wing around 10 pm last night three operatives led by a certain Lieutenant Bandola of the 9th ID Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB) in separate motorcycles chased the jeepney Jariz Vida is occupying and they tried to get him. Fortunately he was able to get away," said the professor.

Meanwhile Jariz Vida, secretary general of BAYAN Muna- Camarines Sur said, "the MIB has been trying to abduct or kill me since April 2006 when they tried to shoot me in Naga City. They failed then and they thought that they can get me now. If anything happens to me then we have nobody to blame but them. Nothing will stop me though from continuing to fight for our rights and the betterment of Bicolanos" # # #

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Anti-VFA
Caravan update
11:30 pm February 23, 2009
Reference:
Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson, BAN
BALIKATAN, 09086198971

Anti-VFA caravan in full swing in spite of numerous checkpoints
US troops manning some checkpoints, using satellite to monitor caravan


The anti-Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) caravan is still on schedule even if there are numerous checkpoints set up the military and they held some of our vehicles. There are also US troops that have been manning checkpoints in at least two areas where the anti-VFA caravan has passed through.

According Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of the Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN), “Both the north and south contingents of our caravan have managed to keep their schedules. As of now there are more than 50 vehicles and other delegates are to follow suit. The north wing is now being blocked by the military in Tara, Sipocot, Camarines Sur and the south wing is in Juban, Sorsogon”“But the military is doing all it can to delay and stop us, they even included some US troops in some of the checkpoints particularly that in Pili, Camarines Sur and Matnog, Sorsogon.

 

They have also gone into a propaganda campaign to misinform and scare the Bikolano public from joining the caravan. We have also received reports that the US military is now monitoring the anti-VFA caravan using satellites” added the professor. “There are no bounds to the temerity of the US troops in violating our Constitution and our sovereignty. We must stand against this and the government should immediately pull out both the US and Filipino troops in the checkpoints. If anything bad happens to us then we have nobody to blame but these soldiers,” ended Bisuña. # # #
 

     
     
           
     

 

BICOLANA-GABRIELA

PAHAYAG SA MIDYA Jenelyn Nagrampa
Pebrero 21, 2009 Secretary General
Bicolana
Gabriela

MGA BATA AT KABABAIHAN BIKTIMA NG CLEARING OPERATIONS NG 901ST BRIGADE NG AFP PARA SA BALIKATAN! ITIGIL ANG OPERASYONG MILITAR SA IKATLONG DISTRITO NG ALBAY LALO NA SA LUNGSOD NG LIGAO! PAPANAGUTIN ANG 901ST BRIGADE!

Kinokondena ng BICOLANA-GABRIELA sa pinakamataas na termino nito ang walang habas na pagbomba ng mga tropa ng 901st Brigade-PA sa dalawang bahay ng mga sibilyan sa Bgy. Balanac, Ligao City noong Pebrero 18 dakong alas-11:30 ng umaga, na nagresulta sa pagkamatay ng batang si Rafaela Polborido, 1 taon at 4 na buwan at malubhang pagkasugat ng 6 pang mga bata na nag-eedad mula 10 buwan hanggang 9 taong gulang at 3 pang kababaihang pawang mga ina ng mga bata at pagkasunog ng mga bahay kasabay ang mga gamit sa loob ng bahay.

Ang karanasang ito ng pamilyang Polborido at Dalima kasama ang buong komunidad ay nagdulot ng matinding takot at trauma lalo na sa mga bata. Nadisloka rin sila sa kanilang mga tahanan dahil sa pagkasunog dulot ng pambobomba. Maraming mga bata ang hindi na pumapasok sa eskwela at maging ang mga guro dahil sa matinding takot na mabiktima din ng karahasang militar.

Kinukundena din namin ang kalupitan, di-makatao at kabulukan ng kontra-insurhensyang gyera na inilulunsad ng rehimeng Arroyo laban sa mga mamamayan nito. Sinasalamin ng pangyayaring ito ang pagiging bayaran/swelduhan, utak pulbura at pasista ng kaisipang isinasaksak ng indoktrinisasyon at mga pagsasanay sa hanay ng ating mga kasundaluhan na tuwirang nakaayon sa disenyo ng pwersang militar ng Etados Unidos. Lalo pa itong napapasama sa pagkakaroon ng mga pinuno gaya ni Col. Ariel Bernardo na hindi marunong tumanggap ng pagkakasala sa mamamayan at ayaw umako ng buong responsabilidad sa mga nagawa ng kanyang mga tauhan sa 901st Brigade.

Ito ba ang pagsasakatuparan ng sinasabing “to serve and protect”? Dito ba napupunta ang malaking bahagi ng pera ng bayan na galing sa buwis na pinaghihirapang pagtrabahuhan ng mga mamamayan? Una sa lahat, dapat isaalang-alang at pangalagaan ng AFP ang buhay ng mga sibilyan lalo't higit ang buhay ng mga bata at kababaihan na isinasaad sa Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at maging sa International Convention on the Rights of the Child at International
Declaration of Human Rights.

Ang pambobomba ay naganap habang nagsasagawa ang militar ng clearing operations para sa gaganaping BALIKATAN Exercise sa mga lugar ng Ligao City kasama ang mga bayan ng Libon, Pio Duran, Guinobatan at Camalig, Albay. Ngayon pa nga lamang na naghahanda para sa isasagawang joint military exercise ay nakakagawa na ang AFP ng mga paglabag sa karapatan ng mga sibilyan, lalo't higit sa mga bata at kababaihan, paano pa kaya kapag nagsimula na ang BALIKATAN?

Sa ganitong mga karumal-dumal na pangyayayari, hinahamon namin ang pamunuan ng AFP sa rehiyon at sa buong bansa na papanagutin ang mga may sala sa 901st BRIGADE, Phil. Army kasama ang mga opisyal na nag-utos ng pambobomba at operasyong militar sa lugar. Kagyat ding itigil ang operasyong militar sa ikatlong distrito ng Albay lalo na sa lungsod ng Ligao at huwag ituloy ang gagawing joint military exercises sa mga probinsya ng Albay, Masbate at Sorsogon.

Nananawagan din kami sa mga mamamayan lalo sa Ligao City na maging matapang at mapagmatyag para ilantad at labanan ang mga pandarahas at paglabag sa ating mga
karapatang pantao lalo ng mga bata at kababaihan na kagagawan ng AFP.

PANGALAN
NG MGA NAGING BIKTIMA NG PAMBOBOMBA NG 901ST BRIGADE:

Namatay - RAFAELA POLBORIDO, 1 taon at 4 na buwan (namatay sa BRTTH noong February 19, 2009, 12 midnnight,
dahil sa tama ng sharpnel sa may bahagi ng batok.

Mga may tama ng sharpnel sa iba't-ibang parte ng katawan:

- JOCELYN POLBORIDO, 30 yo
- INA POLBORIDO, 5 yo anak ni Jocelyn
- DAISY POLBORIDO, 4 yo anak ni Jocelyn
- EUFEMIA POLBORIDO, 28 yo
- ANDREA, 4 yo, anak ng kapatid ng asawa ni Jocelyn
- ROSE DALIMA, 31 yo
- RODERICK DALIMA, 5 yo anak ni Rose
- MARY ROSE DALIMA, 10 mos, anak ni Rose
- EMERSON, 9 yo anak ni Rose

 

     
     
     
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
23 February 2009

For Reference: REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-91345
Francis Uyanguren (Public Information Officer) 0929-4511305

GABRIELA SOLON HITS MILITARY ATROCITIES IN BICOL RENEWS CALL TO
TERMINATE US-RP VFA

Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women's Party Rep.Liza Maza today denounced the intensive military operations and grenade firing conducted by the 901st Brigade of the Philippine Army in Bgy.Balanac, Ligao City in Bicol Region last February 18 that killed a one year and four-months old girl Rafaela Polborido and severely injured six other children aged 10 months to 9 years old and three mothers as their houses and properties were burned and destroyed.

"This military atrocity victimizing our women and children is nefarious and we express our strongest condemnation to this. As always, the innocent civilians have become easy targets of the military whenever they conduct their military operations." Maza lamented.

"The bitter experiences of the Polborido and Dalima family have placed the whole community under threat and trauma especially the children. Because their houses were burned and bombed, they are now dislocated. Out of deep fear and apprehension that they might be the next victims of this violence, students and teachers alike are forced to stop going to school" Maza added.

According to reports, the clearing operations conducted by the 901st Brigade-PA were done in preparation for the Balikatan exercises particularly in Ligao City including Libon, Pio Duran, Guinobatan and Camalig, Albay.

"The forthcoming Balikatan exercises indisputably spell doom for the people in Bicol. Even before it actually started, these joint Balikatan exercises have already victimized innocent civilians. As long as the Arroyo administration continues to embrace the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, our communities will experience tremendous fear as violations of human rights are committed with all impunity," Maza said.

Maza firmly stressed the urgency of terminating the US-RP VFA given that this agreement between the US and the Philippines has placed our country in constant detriment. "More than surrendering the national sovereignty, this government is guilty of endangering the lives of its people," the solon added.

The Gabriela Solon will join the Bicolanos in the People's Caravan Against Balikatan in the Bicol Region this week to oppose the entry of US troops for the said military exercises.

--
Gabriela Women's Party National Headquarters
118 Scout Rallos, Brgy. Sacred Heart,
Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9295342
Email: gabrielawomensparty@gmail.com
Website: www.gabrielawomensparty.net

Office of Gabriela Rep. Liza Largoza Maza
Rm 309 South Wing Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9316268
Email: lizalmaza@yahoo.com

Office of Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan
Rm. 601 South Wing Bldg.
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9315586
E-mail: repluzilagan@gmail.com

 

     
     
     
           
     
           
=          
==          
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
24 FEBRUARY 2009

Reference: Ms. Sophia Flor Garduce, spokesperson, 439-3104

VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT KILLED BABY RAFAELA, SAYS SALINLAHI ALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN’S CONCERNS

Child rights advocates led by the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns issued their strongest condemnation over the killing of 1 year old, Rafaela Polvorido in Ligao, Albay resulting from military operations of the 901st brigade in preparation of the Balikatan exercises in Bicol Region. The incident also left six (6) children (aged 10-months old to 9 years old) and three (3) women wounded and traumatized.

According to Sophia Garduce, spokesperson of the group, Baby Rafaela was killed by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). "We are appalled with the government's eagerness to pander to the US with the VFA despite protests from various fronts. It is an utter disrespect for the sovereign rights of our people. What is more infuriating is that with this incident, the military is once again trying to escape accountability over the incident and further perpetuate the climate of impunity," quipped Ms. Garduce. Previous news reports based on military media releases claimed that the incident was a result of an encounter between the AFP and the New Peoples Army. Subsequent independent findings indicated that it was a clearing operation, in preparation for the Balikatan Exercises to be held in May.

Garduce said that the incident will be added to the long list of atrocious acts committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against Filipino children in communities whom the AFP perceive to be their enemies. "Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated. We documented and proved numerous cases of military's atrocity against children being passed off as resulting from legitimate encounters and thus, acquitting themselves of their crimes against children," Garduce said.

Salinlahi also raised alarm over the upcoming Balikatan exercises in Bicol, saying that "the joint exercises between the AFP and US forces will not offer anything for the people in Bicol. We fear that more children and women will become victims in these exercises, just like what happened to Rafaela," Garduce added. "With the military's penchant of escaping accountability, coupled with the controversy regarding custody and accountability of any erring US serviceman under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the lives of hundreds of Bicolano women and children will be compromised," quipped Garduce.

Salinlahi and its member organizations added their voices in calling for the termination of the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement. "The incident involving the death of Rafaela and the endangering of women’s and children's lives should be addressed in the calls of different groups and individuals, including senators, to abrogate the agreement, and immediately prosecute soldiers of the 901st Brigade. Let us not allow the VFA to kill more Filipino children. Let us scrap the VFA instead”, ended Garduce. ###

 

     
           

 

Statement
February 25, 2009

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

"JUNK VFA!" Filipino-Americans Cry as Thousands More US Troops Make Their Way To Bicol

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the United States, condemns the arrogant and costly continuance of the so-called "joint military exercises" between US and Philippine troops known as Balikatan under the auspices of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), despite widespread opposition from the Filipino people. In April 2009, over 6,000 US troops will be deployed to the Bicol region of the Philippines to join 2500 Philippine troops to launch the Balikatan 2, the continuation of military exercises and practices as a so-called "counter-terrorism" measure for the region.

It is utterly disappointing that while the world had reason to celebrate the voting out of George W. Bush in favor of "change we can all believe in", the Obama administration has decided to NOT CHANGE Bush's foreign policy in the Philippines. This includes upholding the rotten and unequal character of the VFA.

The terms of the 1999 RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement-- consisting of two principal documents, VFA 1 and VFA 2, though on paper a joint military agreement between two countries-- has been poorly implemented and abused by both governments. The result has been a large wielding of heavy favor and privilege to the US government while grossly minimizing, if not diminishing, the Philippines' right to national sovereignty in military and judicial affairs. One such example is stipulations on the "right to jurisdiction" in cases of crimes committed by military personnel in both countries.

VFA 1 stipulates that the US government retain jurisdiction over US military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless said crimes are "of particular importance" to the Philippines. Throughout the history of the VFA, many have accused both government of using the agreement to grant immunity from prosecution to all US military personnel who commit crimes against Filipinos. Since the advent of US military presence in the Philippines in 1899, no single US military personnel has been tried and convicted for a crime committed on the Philippines UNTIL 2006, when a historical guilty verdict convicted Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, one of four US marines stationed in the Philippines, accused of gang raping a 22-year old Filipina woman in 2005.

While undergoing trial for nearly a year, the four remained under US custody, despite growing unrest in the country to hand them over to Philippine jurisdiction. Characteristically subservient and treasonous, the Arroyo government bowed down in loyalty its foreign master and pushed for the overtly-lopsided handling in favor of the US military during the Subic Rape Trial. While three out of the four were eventually acquitted, Smith was convicted. Shortly after conviction, Philippine authorities turned-over Smith to the US Embassy in Manila, where he supposedly remains, against the outrage of the majority of Filipinos who protested for him to serve his time in a Philippine jail.

In stark contrast, VFA 2 stipulates that "confinement imposed by a United States federal or state court upon a Republic of the Philippines personnel shall be served in penal institutions in the United States suitable for the custody level of the prisoners, chosen after consultation between the two governments."

While historically abused and defended by Malacanang, we applaud the patriotic and human rights-conscious elements in the Philippine Legislature who are rising up to call for the termination of the VFA and pointing out Malacanang's betrayal. House Resolution 458, calling for the abrogation of the VFA, was filed last year mainly by representatives in BAYAN MUNA and Gabriela Women's Party. But now the lingering question over Smith's detention in the US Embassy has resulted in a number of Philippine Senators, including Francis Pangilinan, Rodolfo Biazon, Pia Cayetano, and Francis Escudero to support the abrogation the VFA on the basis of it being utterly in opposition to the national interests and dignity of the Philippine people. Senate Resolution 892, filed by Pangilinan last week, deems the VFA violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which prohibits the permanent presence of foreign troops in Philippine territory.

While the pact stipulates US military basing in the Philippines to be "temporary", the truth is US military presence in the Philippines has no genuine intention of leaving. In fact, under Bush-Arroyo framework of the Philippines as the "Second Front" to the Global War on Terror, Balikatan not only increased the number of US troops in the Philippines to the thousands and paved the way for the construction of US military bases in Mindanao, it paved the way for an increase in millions of US tax dollars as US military aid to the country, a package that has been linked to the proliferation of human rights violations committed by the Philippine military. The presence of the so-called "temporary" US military bases and economic aid has been largely hidden by both the US and Philippine governments, but the concrete effects have been adversely felt by all Filipinos in some way, shape, or form.

Just this week, the recent preparatory exercises of Philippine military's 901st Brigade for the coming of the US troops in Ligao, Albay that resulted in the death of 16-month old Rafaella Polvorido and injuries to at least six other small children and three women who were left traumatized. This proves that the VFA not only sows military atrocities against civilian Filipinos, it kills the most innocent as well. Polvorido's case is just the latest in a long history of senseless civilian deaths that have resulted in joint military agreements between the US and Philippine governments since 1946, right after the US government "granted" the country nominal independence.

At the same time, it is shameful that the Obama administration continues to pay for the costliness of the Balikatan exercises at a time of acute economic crisis. As more and more people in the US lose jobs, homes, education opportunities, and access to quality healthcare, it is unconscionable that the US government sends millions to the corrupt and tyrannical Arroyo government who funnels the aid to Philippine death squads.

Clearly, the VFA has historically sown not only human rights violations, senseless killings, sexual terrorism against Filipino women and children, aggressive armed conflict, and the trampling of Philippine national sovereignty, it has advanced the Arroyo government's traditional employment of deceit, betrayal, and secrecy at the expense of the Filipino people's national interests. It also an unnecessary economic burden the people of the US.

The VFA can not be reformed or suspended as a resolution. Only total and complete termination of the VFA and assurance that no such agreement will ever be entered into again can truly satisfy the yearning of the Filipino people for genuine national sovereignty and human rights.

JUNK THE VFA!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
JUSTICE FOR RAFAELLA POLVORIDO & ALL VICTIMS OF US-RP MILITARY ATROCITIES!
TRANSFER RAPIST DANIEL SMITH TO A PHILIPPINE PRISON NOW!

 

     
     
     

 

News video of violent despersal of rally at the US embassy

■   http://www.gmanews.tv/video/37282/Violence-mars-rally-at-US-Embassy
■  
http://www.gmanews.tv/video/37280/QTV-Violent-dispersal-mars-anti-VFA-rally-at-US-Embassy

 

           

 

Subject: Filipino Youth in US Denounce Brutal Dispersal in Anti-VFA Protest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
26 February 2009
Reference: Jonna Baldres, Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, anakbayan_ny@
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://yahoo.com

Filipino Youth in US Denounce Brutal Dispersal in Anti-VFA Protest

Anakbayan New York/New Jersey strongly condemns the violent dispersal of members of Anakbayan Philippines by the Philippine National Police at the rally in front of the US embassy last February 25, a blatant attack on the people's right to assemble and march on the streets.

About 400 rallyists from member organizations of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), including the youth mass organization, Anakbayan, trooped to the US embassy in Roxas Boulevard in Manila to protest against the intensive military operations and grenade firing by the Philippine military's 901st Brigade last February 18 in Ligao City, Bicol killing a 1-year and 4-month old girl, Rafaela Polborido, and leaving 9 more civilians wounded, 6 of whom were children.

The military offensive was believed to be a part of the preparations for the Balikatan exercises which will resume in April 2009. Around 6,000 US troops are expected to join 2,500 Philippine troops to carry out the implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a 10-year-standing treaty between the US and Philippine governments said to be "mutual" but which proved to be favorable only to the US.

This one-sidedness can be seen in the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, the US marine deployed in the Philippines who was the first to be convicted of raping a young Filipina in 2005 but was granted immunity from being held in Philippine jail as stipulated in the "right to jurisdiction" that US military personnel who committed crimes in Philippine soil will be held in US custody. Thus, Smith was kept in the US embassy since the conviction. This does not follow with any personnel of the Philippine Republic, who, once convicted in US territory by a US federal or state court, will be held in any US prison. This, among other stipulations, definitely does not show "mutual" respect between two nation's sovereignty and judicial systems. One clearly has more advantages than the other.

The Arroyo government must have understood the mutuality of the treaty in terms of allowing the US to bring in more troops and state-of-the-art military equipment into the country, however, not serving the purpose of strengthening the nation's defenses, but instead advancing their own interests. This unilateral agreement seeks only to interfere with the Philippines' civil, economic, political and military affairs and collaborate with the fascist Arroyo regime to intimidate, repress and murder the innocents.
 

In efforts of the Philippine government to track down rebels, residents of communities across the Bicol region -- for decades of being the hotbed of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines -- in turn, are in danger of being forcefully displaced, harassed and stripped of their properties if they are believed to be sympathizers of the NPA. This, clearly, is not a sign of development, or of being beneficial to the Philippines' military field. It is, we perceive, as desperate.

Following the recent events in the Philippines in which total disregard for the Filipino people's rights has been non-stop, we, the Filipino youth here in the US will not remain silent. It is only fitting to remind the US government that the "help" it plans and continues to extend to the Philippine government in extinguishing its own people comes from our pockets -- the taxpayers' pockets. We, neither our parents, did not come to this country to work and witness our hard-earned money turn into truncheons and bullets only to be fired at our fellow Filipinos back home -- helpless, young and innocent -- ending up in ashes, raped or beaten. Sadly, the dream of books, classrooms and basic social services for the Filipino youth, now more than ever, seemed too far-fetched with the current US-Arroyo regime still in place.

 

 

These atrocities inflicted upon our people shall remain so long as VFA is in effect. And the only step we must take to end this nonsense is to be one with the Filipino people in pushing for its repeal. ###

JUNK VFA!
STOP CRIMINALIZING THE FILIPINO YOUTH!
BOOKS NOT BULLETS FOR FILIPINO YOUTH!
WITHDRAW US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
CONFINE DANIEL SMITH IN PHILIPPINE PRISON NOW!
JUSTICE FOR RAFAELA POLBORIDO & ALL VICTIMS OF
US-RP MILITARIZATION IN THE PHILIPPINES!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------


News Release
February 26, 2009
Reference: Peter Arvin Jabido, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: nychrp@gmail.com

Filipinos in NYC Condemn Violent, Bloody Dispersal of Anti-VFA Rally in Manila by Police

New York-- Filipinos in NYC under the banner of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), are speaking out against the brutal treatment of activists in Manila marching to the US Embassy by Manila Police Department (MPD) this week. One student activist, Jonathan Jimenez, was rushed to a hospital after blows from a police shield bloodied his head. The brutalized contingent was protesting and marching in opposition to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a mutual defense treaty between the US and Philippine governments that many have characterized as onerous and unconstitutional.

"We condemn the Philippine authorities for their brutality against the protesters exercising a legitimate right to assemble and march on the streets. The VFA is a legitimate issue that even Philippine Senators are opposing," states NYCHRP spokesperson Ramon Mappala. "Having been a student activist protesting the Vietnam War in the 1970's and having lived through the fascism of martial law under Marcos, this incident rings disturbingly familiar and should sound-off as an alarm to all patriotic Filipinos worldwide," Mappala added.

Jimenez was part of the BAYAN/Anakbayan contingent that marched towards the US Embassy in Manila following up a recent Philippine Supreme Court (SC) ruling that convicted rapist and US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith be transferred to a detention facility under Philippine jurisdiction upon re-negotiations between the US Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Talks between the two entities, however, have been expectedly stalled.

After a historical conviction in 2007, Smith was handed over to the US Embassy for detention. Both the US government and Philippine authorities cited stipulations under the VFA on the handling of US soldiers convicted of crimes on Philippine territory. But over a year later, with outrage mounting on the streets over the trampling of Philippine sovereignty and dignity, the SC ruling negotiations be re-opened is being coupled with more and more Philippine Senators signing onto a bill to suspend or abrogate the VFA.

Over 6000 US troops are scheduled to be deployed to Bicol this April to for Balikatan 2, joint military exercises under the VFA. Earlier this week, in preparation for Balikatan 2, ground exercises in Ligao, Albay resulted in the death of 16 month-old Rafaella Polvorido.


"The abrogation of the VFA and upholding Philippine sovereignty is the human rights solution," stated Mappala. "Thousands of our own people have suffered gross indignities because of US military presence in the Philippines, including rape, killings, and indiscriminate shootings. The VFA must be terminated. There is no other way." ###

To view video of the anti-VFA dispersal by police, visit
http://www.gmanews.tv/video/37318

 

           

 

BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN
SOUTHERN TAGALOG

PRESS RELEASE
February 24, 2009

Reference: Christine Macabetcha, 09198593660
Bayan-ST, Deputy Secretary General

VFA review: long overdue;
Junk VFA now! Suspend all Balikatan Exercises – BAYAN-ST

Contrary to United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney's recent statement that a review of the VFA would be premature at the moment, anti-VFA protesters from Southern Tagalog called for the immediate termination of the bilateral agreement saying the Philippine government shouldn't have entered it in the first place.

The protesters, led by the Southern Tagalog chapter of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), organized a rally today at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, a day before the opening of the 2009 Baliktan Exercises in the Bicol region.

In a statement, Bayan-ST Deputy Secretary General Christine Macabetcha said the issue of jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel convicted of committing a crime in the Philippines was among many other questions raised against the VFA even before it was ratified. She said if the Arroyo administration is serious in reviewing the VFA, it should cancel all RP-U.S. joint military exercises.

"A review and termination of the VFA is actually long overdue. The question of jurisdiction over convicted rapist Daniel Smith is only a tip of the iceberg. In past Balikatan Exercises particularly in Mindanao, there were already documented reports of other atrocities committed by U.S. troops. There were also incidents of U.S. troops engaging in actual combat which is a direct violation of the Philippine constitution."

"The Arroyo administration is proving its subservience to U.S. interests by not taking action," Macabetcha said.

The group said the rally was held to coincide with the anti-VFA protest caravan in Bicol which kicked-off last Sunday.

The protesters held banners bearing the slogans "Stop Balikatan in Southern Luzon!," "Junk VFA!" and "U.S. Troops Out Now!" while some wore skull masks while holding cut-out drawings of U.S. Military weapons. There were also posters of Pres. Arroyo depicted as a puppy held by Uncle Sam. After ending the rally at the embassy with a symbolic burning of the American flag, the protesters proceeded to Cavite province for another anti-VFA protest action.

According to Macabetcha, joint training Exercises under this year's Balikatan will also be held in Ternate and Sangley Point in Cavite. ###


For inquiries, contact Glen @ 09284497785 or RJ @ 09292714057
 

           


Bayan Muna calls on House leadership to expedite hearings on House Resolution 458 that calls for the abrogation of the VFA in light of the many cases of US troops' violations of Philippine laws (Including the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith).

Filed in February 12, 2008, HR 458 has been pending at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (headed by Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco) since February 22, 2008.

Initiated by Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino, coauthors of the bill include Gabriela Reps. Liza Maza and Luz Ilagan and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano (in place of the late Rep. Crispin Beltran who is a signatory of the Resolution).

There should be no negotiations with regard to the transfer of Smith to Philippine authorities since he was convicted for violating Philippine laws in Philippine territory. He should be transferred to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session
HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 458
(filed February 12, 2008)

Introduced by Representatives SATUR C. OCAMPO, TEODORO A. CASIÑO, CRISPIN B. BELTRAN, LIZA L. MAZA and LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN

RESOLUTION

CALLING FOR THE ABROGATION OF THE RP-US VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
AS OUR EXPERIENCES UNDER THIS NINE-YEAR OLD AGREEMENT SHOW THAT ITS ONEROUS PROVISIONS DENIGRATE PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY AND IT PAVED THE WAY FOR THE PERMANENT PRESENCE AND BASING OF US TROOPS IN THE COUNTRY WITHOUT A TREATY THROUGH SUCCESSIVE MILITARY EXERCISES, THUS VIOLATING ARTICLE XVIII, SECTION 25 OF 1987 CONSTITUTION

WHEREAS, our experiences in dealing with the cases of abuses and violations of our laws by American troops who were in the country by virtue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) show that the agreement is riddled with provisions that undermine, if not totally render impossible, the criminal prosecution of said US troops;

WHEREAS, the VFA provisions on the custody of the accused, prescription of criminal prosecution and waiver of jurisdiction stand as the biggest stumbling blocks to the right of the victims to seek justice and ultimately lead to the loss of Philippine right to prosecute the offenders, which is an affront to our sovereign power to enforce our laws within our territory;

WHEREAS, the counterpart VFA II regulating entry of Filipino soldiers in the US does not contain similar provisions as to waiver of jurisdiction and prescription – a clear sign of the onerous imposition on the Philippines by the US government which refuses to incur the same obligations they impose on the Philippines;

WHEREAS, except for the Subic rape incident that has generated extensive media coverage, the culpability of American troops in such incidents as the mauling of Marcelo Batestil in Cebu City, the shooting of Buyong-Buyong Isnijal in Tuburan, Basilan, the massacre of three of our Moro brothers in Barangay Sipangkot, Umapoy Island, Tawi-Tawi, and the shooting to death of Arsid Baharon in Barangay San Roque, Zamboanga City, have not been thoroughly investigated despite the presentation of solid evidence, thus relegating them into the archives of oblivion;

WHEREAS, even in the Subic rape case, justice has not yet been satisfactorily served as the convicted American soldier, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, awaiting decision on his appeal, was surreptitiously taken away from his prison cell in Makati City by American authorities with the apparent acquiescence of the Philippine government and transferred to the custody of the US embassy in violation of our Constitution and laws;

WHEREAS, this continued undermining of Philippine sovereignty through the VFA has been made possible by the Philippine government’s own subservience to American dictates;

WHEREAS, the act of a team of US Special Forces leading a convoy of Philippine Marines on a combat mission near an MNLF area in Indanan, Sulu on 14 August 2007 has been lamely explained by Philippine military authorities as a site survey for possible areas where humanitarian assistance and Balikatan exercises can be held;

WHEREAS, Master Sergeant Ron Berg and his team of US Special Forces have not been sanctioned for unilaterally and arbitrarily ordering the personnel of the Panamao District Hospital in Panamao, Sulu on 30 November 2007 to close the hospital during the night and threatening to shoot anyone defying the order;

WHEREAS, Major General Reuben Rafael, Task Force Comet commander, dismissed the US troops’ forced closure of the hospital as a mere case of miscommunication wherein the Filipino hospital staff allegedly did not understand the language of the American soldiers;

WHEREAS, the RP-US military exercises under the VFA have been scheduled and conducted the whole year round, thus have practically allowed the permanent presence of US troops in the country;

WHEREAS, Maj. Gen. Rafael has declared that US forces are digging in, not moving out, and more American troops are coming when the training exercises begins this February, which is contrary to the temporary character of American presence as enunciated in the VFA and its Terms of Reference;

WHEREAS, news reports say that 6,000 American troops and only 2,000 Filipino troops will be involved in the upcoming Balikatan exercises;

WHEREAS, Maj. Gen. Rafael admitted that the American troops who arrived in Sulu last year were moving to the former camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at Bitanag which is a virtual admission of the permanent basing of US troops in Sulu;

WHEREAS, Sandrawina Wahid, a survivor in the February 4, 2008 massacre in Barangay Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu, where eight people, including two children and a pregnant woman, were killed said that she saw four US soldiers in the company of the Philippine Navy and Army elite forces that stormed their village;

WHEREAS, in the nine years that the VFA has been in place, the patently one-sided character of the agreement in favor of the US is working against the country’s national interest. The series of RP-US military exercises practically provide for the permanent presence of US troops in the country who apparently engage in direct combat operations and who remain under US jurisdiction despite offenses committed on Philippine soil;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS RESOLVED, that the House of Representatives call for the abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement

as our experiences under this nine-year old agreement show that its onerous provisions denigrate Philippine sovereignty and it paved the way for the permanent presence and basing of US troops in the country without a treaty through successive military exercises, thus violating Article XVIII, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution.


Adopted,

SATUR C. OCAMPO TEODORO A. CASIÑO             CRISPIN B. BELTRAN
BAYAN MUNA Party-List BAYAN MUNA Party-List   ANAKPAWIS Party-List

LIZA. L. MAZA       LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN
Gabriela Women’s Party Gabriela Women’s Party

----------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

     BAN Balikatan or Bicolano Alliance for Nationalism Against Balikatan is an alliance of nationalist and patriotic Bicolanos against the 2009 RP-US Balikatan Exercises - the 25th Joint RP-US War Exercises, to be conducted in the provinces of Region V Bicol, Philippines.

BAN Balikatan believes that the main purpose for conducting joint military exercises by the AFP and US Military in Bicol this 2009 is to intensify the US intervention in our country.This activity is a flagrant violation of our country’s sovereignty and integrity based from the related provisions in the Constitution.

Contact BAN Balikatan at banbalikatan.media@gmail.com
Visit website at: http://banbalikatan.wordpress.com/

 

 

League of Filipino Students
Mobile Number: 09158513904
Website: LFS.ph
_______________________________

PRESS RELEASE
February 25, 2009

LFS: Continuing the VFA Exposes Absence of Independent Foreign Policy
“Again, the servile nature of this government to US Imperialism is being exposed.”

This was how the anti-imperialist League of Filipino Students described the continuing insistence of the Arroyo government to continue the operation of the militarist and unpatriotic Visiting Forces Agreement, despite the growing clamor from civil society groups, lawmakers and even Justices of the Supreme Court for the VFA’s abrogation.

"After selling out Philippine territory through the soon-to-be-signed Baselines bill, this government seems hell-bent on completely surrendering Philippine sovereignty to foreign superpowers." said Terry Ridon, spokesperson of the LFS.

He added that Philippine foreign policy remains in ‘absolute kowtow’ to US ‘imperial‘interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

"In the past half-century of Philippine’s nominal independence from the United States, we have failed to implement an independent foreign policy, in which the country asserts sovereignty over its resources, laws and development frameworks against foreign intrusion.” he said.

He said this clear absence of an independent foreign policy has strangled genuine economic development in the country, with the United States opposing many pro-people development paradigms such as genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. The VFA and the Mutual Defense treaty are no exceptions.

“A growing consensus is building among our people for the abrogation of the VFA, due to the unequal, militarist and colonial nature of the very agreement. This government should take heed of this. Its stubbornness might trigger a new round of large protest movements in the style of the massive mobilizations during the anti-US Bases campaign in the 1990s.” Ridon says finally.

Reference:

Ron Villegas, LFS Vice Chairperson and Information Officer, 09239130516, ronvil@gmail.com
Terry Ridon, LFS Spokesperson, 09158513904, teridon18@gmail.com
 

---------------------------------------------------

 

NEWS RELEASE
12 February 2009

Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 371-2302 / 01989182150

SMITH DETENTION WITHIN PHILIPPINE TERRITORY
IS NON-NEGOTIABLE

The militant women's group GABRIELA said that the detention of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith within Philippine territory is non-negotiable.

"It is in the interest of justice that a criminal like Smith be punished to the full extent of the law. While we welcome the Supreme Court's decision that Smith be transferred in a facility under Philippine authorities, it falls short in rendering justice by subjecting Smith's detention to precondition such as negotiation, "said Joms Salvador, spokesperson of GABRIELA.

This was in reaction to the Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with representatives of the United States regarding the detention facility of Smith who remains in the US Embassy.

On the other hand, GABRIELA decried the SC's decision upholding the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), maintaining that the VFA is a one-sided agreement that violates Philippine sovereignty
and legal due process.

"In the first place, Smith should have long been detained in a Philippine jail, and justice would have been long served, if it were not for the ambiguous provision of the VFA regarding custody," said Salvador.

"While Article V Section 10 of the VFA states that Philippine authorities should detain US personnel, it is unclear whether the detention facility should be within Philippine territory. Thus, it can be interpreted, as already done by Smith's camp of late, that his detention in the US embassy is perfectly valid and legal," said Salvador.

The women's group also noted that the SC's order for the DFA to renegotiate with US authorities subjects Smith's detention to further dispute and may even result to his continued detention within US territory, given what it describes as "the Philippine government's utter subservience to the US government."

GABRIELA said they will push for Smith's immediate transfer to a Philippine prison, while continuing to exhaust all other means to junk the VFA. ###


GABRIELA Philippines
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23
E-mail: internationalrelations@gabrielaphilippines.org

GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women's organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.

 

---------------------------------

 

NEWS RELEASE
12 February 2009

Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 371-2302 / 01989182150

SMITH DETENTION WITHIN PHILIPPINE TERRITORY
IS NON-NEGOTIABLE

The militant women's group GABRIELA said that the detention of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith within Philippine territory is non-negotiable.

"It is in the interest of justice that a criminal like Smith be punished to the full extent of the law. While we welcome the Supreme Court's decision that Smith be transferred in a facility under Philippine authorities, it falls short in rendering justice by subjecting Smith's detention to precondition such as negotiation, "said Joms Salvador, spokesperson of GABRIELA.

This was in reaction to the Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with representatives of the United States regarding the detention facility of Smith who remains in the US Embassy.

On the other hand, GABRIELA decried the SC's decision upholding the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), maintaining that the VFA is a one-sided agreement that violates Philippine sovereignty
and legal due process.

"In the first place, Smith should have long been detained in a Philippine jail, and justice would have been long served, if it were not for the ambiguous provision of the VFA regarding custody," said Salvador.

"While Article V Section 10 of the VFA states that Philippine authorities should detain US personnel, it is unclear whether the detention facility should be within Philippine territory. Thus, it can be interpreted, as already done by Smith's camp of late, that his detention in the US embassy is perfectly valid and legal," said Salvador.

The women's group also noted that the SC's order for the DFA to renegotiate with US authorities subjects Smith's detention to further dispute and may even result to his continued detention within US territory, given what it describes as "the Philippine government's utter subservience to the US government."

GABRIELA said they will push for Smith's immediate transfer to a Philippine prison, while continuing to exhaust all other means to junk the VFA. ###
 

Terminate VFA Now - by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers

 

The secret agreement VFA II contains a plethora of unequal provision - by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers

 

           
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