US-RP Balikatan ends but not people’s war v. US
RESISTANCE against the United States military intervention in the country, particularly in Mindanao, will not end with the closure of the Balikatan exercises, according to the US Troops Out Now-Mindanao Coalition.
Lawyer Beverly Musni, convenor of the group, said their vigilance against the deceptive forms of US military interventions would not stop with the ending of the Balikatan exercises Monday.
The recent joint military exercises of the US and the Philippine government was welcomed by various protest actions that gathered more than 10,000 people across Mindanao who rejected the presence of American soldiers in the region. Public outrage were expressed in rallies at the start of the military exercises last February 18 here and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Cotabato, the Lanao Provinces and the town of Pikit in North Cotabato.
“We must not believe that because this round of Balikatan exercises has come to an end that the US military will leave the country; or that the US troops are limiting themselves to their so-called humanitarian missions,” Musni said.
“Another round of Balikatan may be over, but the violation of our national sovereignty and the endangerment of our lives continue,” she added.
Musni described the approach of the US military as “two-faced” when the American troops conducted medical services and implemented social projects while “covertly engaging in special operations at the same time.”
She said the US military works year-round on clandestine mission through a special US military unit called Joint Special Operations Task Force based in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
She said during the massacre of eight civilians, including a pregnant woman and two children in Maimbung, Sulu, some witnesses noted the participation of American soldiers.
“Such incidents show the US military’s duplicity to the Filipinos — they shower us with supposed gifts with one hand, but use force with the other. Efforts to clear the Filipino soldiers of committing the crime are aimed to whitewash the US complicity in the massacre,” Musni said.
Musni also recounted the 2002 incident in Tuburan, Basilan where a US soldier shot a Moro civilian in a military operation. The soldier was later identified as Sergeant Reggie Lane who took part in medical missions.
“We must remain vigilant in the monitoring and documentation of the movements of US troops in the country. There is a need for further research on the impact and conduct of these so-called humanitarian missions in local communities, which have been controversial in host communities. We also must stay alert and investigate their activities when Balikatan exercises are not being conducted,” Musni said.