SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
The progressive national democratic alliance, BAYAN, has been coordinating a large scale protest caravan against the presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines due to the start of the joint U.S. military and AFP military exercises, Balikatan:
Amid news that four officers of the USS Guardian minesweeper being relieved from their posts following the grounding of the ship in the Philippines, various cause-oriented groups held a caravan to protest the latest US-led war games in the country.
The protesters under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan held a protest caravan from Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, to Camp Aquino in Tarlac and then to Subic in Olangapo, all of which are involved in the annual Balikatan war games. Some 8,000 US and Philippine troops are expected to participate in the war exercises.
Bayan decried the Aquino government’s “subservience” to US dictates, allowing more US ships and troops to enter the country, even as the grounding of a US ship in Tubbatah reef has yet to be resolved. The umbrella group also feared that the US war games would further add to the tension in the region, as the US is being blamed for exacerbating the tension in the Korean peninsula.
“When US troops destroy our environment and disregard our laws, no one is made accountable. Even the relief and reassignment of the officers of the USS Guardian are just token measures. Given the number of US troops involved in the Balikatan exercises, the risk of further damage to our environment is definitely there,” Reyes added.
“The Aquino government should stop fooling itself and fooling the people that US military presence here is for our own good. The US war games primarily serves US power projection and the political and economic agenda of the US in the region. Despite so many military exercises in the past, our armed forces have remained backward, because the US wants to keep us dependent on military aid,” Reyes said.
“In exchange for second-hand military equipment, our sovereignty is undermined, our laws are violated and our environment damaged. We don’t enjoy special relations with the US. What we see are neo-colonial relations. We worry that the US war games could add further instability in the region, given what we are seeing in the Korean peninsula,” he added.