VIETNAM WAR IN THE MAKING?
Fishers too are wary of US Balikatan exercises in Bicol
Aside from the communist led New People’s Army, members of the fisherfolk group Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) an affiliate of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday said their group is also highly distrustful of the joint military exercises in the Bicol region, particularly in the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon where the group maintains three provincial chapters which also opposed the RP-US Balikatan exercises.
In a statement e-mailed to Pamalakaya headquarters in Quezon City, Lambat-Bicol said the scheduled Balikatan exercises in April in the three provinces will result to massive deployment of government troops even in the coastal areas of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate where Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol chapters conduct mass campaigns and mobilizations on various sectoral and national issues.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to mobilize thousands of government troops and impose its intimidating presence in fishing communities to provide blanket security to US troops participating in the joint military exercises. A total or selected ban on fishing activities and movement of coastal folks is not a remote possibility,” Lambat-Bicol added.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. He said the joint military training exercises will also cover intelligence and military operations against militant groups in the region which the AFP and the US State Department labeled as front organizations of the CPP in the Bicol region.
“The sinister agenda of Balikatan exercises include intelligence work on various people’s organizations, their leaders and mass members highly critical of US military and economic interests in the Philippines, and very vocal against the reactionary troops and ruling puppet regime in Malacañang. This is Vietnam War in the making,” Hicap added.
Hicap said the Pamalakaya national leadership will write a campaign memo to their chapters in Masbate, Albay and Sorsogon to map out a campaign plan that would line up several protest actions against the RP-US Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region in April.
“We hope we could mount a regionally coordinated fluvial protest action in April against US military intervention and war of aggression in the Bicol region,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
Pamalakaya agreed with the observations raised by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed political wing—the NPA that the plan to conduct annual Balikatan exercises in Bicol region and other parts of the country signaled heightened US military intervention in the local civil war.
“The joint war exercises scheduled in Bicol this April are just a premiere night of an upcoming war of aggression to be led by US troops and their puppet mercenaries in the Philippines. The US wants to have a repeat of the Vietnam War in the 60s” the group added.
In an earlier statement, the CPP claimed that in the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes in the vicinity of NPA guerilla fronts in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and Northeastern and Southern Mindanao. #