Militant fishers set Bicol wide “fluvial protest” against Obama’s push for VFA

Militant fishers set Bicol wide “fluvial protest” against Obama’s push for VFA

Calling US President Barack Obama the biggest disappointment of the 21st century, leftwing activists belonging to the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and its regional affiliate Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) will hold a Bicol wide fluvial protest against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the upcoming RP-US joint military exercises in the region.

Lambat-chairperson and Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon Salvador France said their groups were disappointed with Obama’s call to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urging her to keep the defense pact intact and praising the government’s efforts on counter terrorism.

To express their outrage against Obama’s push for VFA and Balikatan exercises in the country, Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol together with anti-Balikatan groups Ban Balikatan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bicol chapter will stage a fluvial protest tomorrow.

The Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya leader said 30 fishing boats will assemble in San Roque, Albay at around 8:00 a.m and will sail towards Legaspi City pier by 9:00 a.m. France said the fluvial protesters are expected to reach the city’s main port by 10:00 a.m where they will hold a one-hour protest against VFA and Balikatan.

France also said the fisherfolk protesters and other activists who will participate in the anti-VFA and anti-Balikatan protest will burn US flags to dramatize their protest against what they called Obama-directed US military intervention and war of aggression in the country.

“This is plain and simple case of same dog, new collar syndrome. Mr. Obama is the new George W. Bush of Washington D.C and his color is now changing from black to bloody red by endorsing the VFA and the Balikatan exercises yearly stage under the tutelage of this one-sided and anti-Filipino defense pact between the US and the Philippines,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol said fluvial protests will also be held in Sorsogon and Masbate today. “This region wide Bangkaan laban sa Balikatan exercises (boat-to-boat exercises) will be the Bicolano fisherfolk’s expression of outrage against this undeniable intervention and war of aggression by US military troops under the camouflage of Balikatan exercises,” they said.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the fisherfolk will take this opportunity to tell the people of Bicol, of the Philippines and of the entire universe, that the RP-US joint military exercises are nothing but pure US militarism and acts of intervention and aggression.

Hicap asserted the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. 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 who are very vocal against state militarization and foreign intervention,” he said. #

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