Protest against US Navy troops mark Fil-Am friendship day in Sarangani
To highlight the “irony” of the Filipino-American Friendship day celebration , July 4, members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan held a protest caravan and stopped in front of Glan Municipal Office where they urged the local officials to pass a resolution banning the entry of US troops in the area.
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — As 400 US Navy soldiers started its joint naval exercises with Filipino counterparts, around 700 members of militant groups held a caravan reiterating its opposition to the US-PH naval war exercises dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) 2012.
This, as a lawmaker in Glan, Sarangani Province expressed concern over the implication of war exercises in the peace situation in the country.
“My position against it stresses on the implication of this military venture to the current peace efforts being initiated in Mindanao and all throughout the country. The presence of US troops in the country aggravates political chaos from both local and international community especially because US has been aggressive on its military positioning worldwide,” lawyer Cyril John Yap, also a municipal councilor, told Davao Today.
For the first time, the US Navy and Coast Guard personnel are taking part of the US-PH joint Naval Exercises in this southernmost part in the country. Joining the exercises that began last July 2 in General Santos City, Glan and Sarangani Bay in Sarangani Province are some 400 members of the Philippine Navy and 150 members of the Philippine Coast Guard.
To highlight the “irony” of the Filipino-American Friendship day celebrations, July 4, members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a protest caravan and stopped in front of Glan Municipal Office where they urged the local officials to pass a resolution banning the entry of US troops in the area.
“US troops are not welcome here (in SOCSKSARGEN). We are strongly opposing Carat 2012 because it manifests the United States’ continuous violation of the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ryan Lariba, Bayan secretary general said.
He added, “There is no real friendship here. Our relationship with US is that of a master-and-slave relation. Whatever they say, the Philippine government follows. This is not all about alms through civic missions, this is all about national sovereignty being desecrated by the US and yet they still have the nerve to call us friends.”
Last Sunday afternoon, US Navy Forces arrived in General Santos on board three naval war ships that docked in Makar Wharf, some three-hour ride by land from downtown Davao city. They were met with protest by members of the militant umbrella organization Bayan.
Carat 2012 involves US warships NS Vandergrift and NS Safeguard, and the US Coast Guard mobile salvage unit USCG Waesche. It also involves Philippine Navy ships BRP Magat Salamat, Miguel Malvar, Salvador Abcede, and coastal patrol craft BRP Teotimo Figuracion.
Bayan said the US wants to build a Naval Base in Sumbang Point in Glan because it’s a favorable area to show their military might in the Asia-Pacific region. Sumbang Point is considered the deepest part of Sarangani Bay where submarines and huge naval war ships can dock.
“This is not just a simple naval exercise. The US is using Sarangani as gauge for its war against other countries,” Lariba said.
Councilor Yap said the US is preparing the Philippine troops to be their half-baked armies. “Welcoming the US military exercises here would mean allowing our country to be dragged to the US-instigated war,” he said.
Aside from the exercises, Carat 2012 has the component Civil Military Operations to be conducted in communities like medical mission civic action program, dental civic action program, engineering civic action program and community relations.
“They are using their civic action program to deceive the people and gain their sympathy and support. They want to hide their militarist and interventionist objectives through these humanitarian missions,” Pastor Jonathan Ulanday, spokesperson of the region’s Patriotiko Mindanao, said.
Meanwhile, Norsam Wahabi of the Gabriela Women’s Party expressed fears that violations against women will happen like the case of “Nicole,” a Mindanawon who testified before the court that she was raped by US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith inside a cruising van at the Subic Bay Freeport in late 2005.
In late 2006, the Makati Regional Trial Court’s Branch 139 found Smith guilty of raping “Nicole.” He was sentenced to life imprisonment under the Philippine laws and was temporarily committed to Makati City Jail. Later, he was spirited out of jail and transferred to the US embassy compound after an agreement was signed by then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Romulo and former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.
“Nicole” later recanted her previous statements.
“We’re afraid that a case like Nicole’s will recur with justice eluding the victims,” Wahabi said. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com