Tag Archives: Balikatan exercises

Leftist alliance in Manila calls for scrapping of PH-US war games

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Opposition to the up coming Philippines-US joint military exercises is getting stronger with the largest alliance of patriotic and progressive groups in Manila voiced out their collective rejection to the scheduled Balikatan exercises next month. In their webiste (www.bayan.ph), the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today called on the Aquino government to scrap the scheduled 2011 Balikatan exercises saying it undermines any meaningful review of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

“By holding the Ballikatan war games on April 5-15 this year, the Aquino government is showing that it is not really serious in reviewing the VFA. Unequal and lopsided provisions remain in the agreement yet the Aquino government has no problems enforcing this pact for the upcoming war games,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“What will happen if there are again violations of Philippine law which would require us gaining custody of American troops? How will the unequal provisions of the VFA be implemented once more? Will we have another Daniel Smith episode, one that is ultimately embarrassing for the Philippines?” Reyes added.

Bayan objected to the holding of the Balikatan exercises saying that the VFA does not specify the number of US troops entering the country and the type of activities they can engage in.

“The VFA has been abused by the United States so they can permanently station their troops in the Philippines as what we are seeing now in Mindanao. The Philippine government has taken on the untenable position of allowing this to happen despite it being a clear violation of our sovereignty and constitution,” Reyes said.

“The upcoming Balikatan exercises show the extent of the Philippine government’s subservience to US dictates. The Aquino government will allow 6,000 US troops who are covered by a defective and one-sided pact to undertake unspecified military operations in our country. The Aquino government, much like the Arroyo government, will allow US troops to make the Philippines their playground,” he added.

The group also said that there remains the unresolved issue in relation to corruption of Baliaktan funds. A Commission on Audit investigation revealed there were irregularities in the management of the AFP’s funds deposited in the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“This is the 27th Balikatan war games. What have we gained so far? What benefits has the VFA provided us? The so-called civil military operations at the communities are mere publicity stunts for US forces to be acceptable to the local population,” Reyes said. The Philippine military announced last week that around 6,000 American troops are going to participate in Balikatan (Shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises next month. It said around 2,000 Philippine troops will join their US counterparts in the 10-day war drill that would start on April 15. The exercises include a unilateral planning exercise inside the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

But AFP officials said the US troops will only participate as observers in the unilateral planning exercise. Aside from the unilateral planning in Puerto Princesa, other joint PH-US military exercises will be held inside Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Basa and Clair Air Base in Pampanga, Crow Valley Range in Tarlac, Naval Station L in Zambales, Sangley Point in Cavite, Msrine Base in Ternate, also in Cavite and Mactan Airbase in Cebu province. Earlier, the activist peasant group in Central Luzon– the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) announced its plan to hold series of protests against the Balikatan exercises. Leaders of the farmer regional alliance said farmers in the region will be barred again from attending their crops during the war exercises.

The same sentiment was echoed by the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, which said that the water-based military drills in Sangley Point and Ternate might result to banning of fishing activities during the joint war drills. Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon Salvador France said everytime there is joint military exercises held along the country’s coastal shores, local government units enforce fishing ban as what happened in the Bicol Region during the 2008 Balikatan exercises.(With reports from Roy Morilla and Labo Molabo Ramos)

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Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

A group calling for the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on Saturday urged Malacanang to immediately and indefinitely suspend the effectivity of the military agreement, while talks of its renegotiation or possible scrapping is still being finalized by senators and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a press statement, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should immediately notify the US government of the proposed suspension of the VFA because talks are underway for its renegotiation or possible abrogation as the case may be.

Malacanang on Friday said it was supporting the position of some senators to renegotiate the VFA and has asked the Commission on the VFA to work with senators on the issue.

But Palace deputy press secretary Lorelei Fajardo appealed to senators not set aside the gains and benefits the country are getting from the military agreement, which the Senate ratified in 1999, eight years after the same constitutional body rejected the 1991 RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

“Given this latest development in the Senate and the mounting protest against the military agreement, the executive department led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her defense and foreign affairs officials should open their hearts and minds for the immediate suspension of the VFA and the near future dissolution of the VFA in the name of national sovereignty and public interest,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap added.

To put premimum to its assertion that the VFA should be abrogated, Pamalakaya said in Bicol region where one of the joint RP-US military exercises was held this year, their members saw US troops joining their local counterparts in conducting census activities which they said were part of the surveillance operations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the New People’s Army in the region.

“As far as we are concerned US troops are strictly prohibited from conducting census and military surveillance according to the 1987 Constitution because its violates the sovereign rights of the Filipino people and by nature, by design and by purpose the census participated by US troops is US military intervention,” the group said.

“Why they are allowed to join government census? It is not the job of American mercenaries to conduct census and surveillance unless they are really planning something big like directing and joining actual combat operations against state targets. It is not even the job of AFP regular forces to conduct census since it is the job of civilian authorities,” said Pamalakaya.

In a report sent to Pamalakaya headquarters in Quezon, it said small fishermen started seeing US personnel joining the military census activities in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Lambat-Bicol also noted the disturbing presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed. A number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province, ahead of the scheduled RP-US joint military exercises last March.

Pamalakaya said the survey of communities was followed by the announcement of Mr. Celso del Socorro, Officer-in-charge of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms (BFAR-V) about its plan to impose a region-wide fish ban in Bicol once the Balikatan exercises start in April 2009.

The fish ban according to Pamalakaya was announced, because the war games will make use of the interconnecting bodies of water in Bicol region namely the Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay that join the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate for the loading and unloading of 3,000 US troops and personnel who will participate in the Balikatan exercises.

To show proof that a Balikatan-induced fish ban was implemented, a fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot, all in Albay province were executed last Feb. affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot was effectively utilized to effect a fish ban ahead and during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) last march.

Reports that reached the national secretariat office of Pamalakaya said the local government units and barangay officials in mentioned coastal towns in Albay have started implementing a 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am beginning February 23 until the Balikatan exercises officially ended sometime in April. #

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Leftwing group urges Filipinos to phone and tell GMA to scrap VFA

PATRIOTIC ADVISORY
Leftwing group urges Filipinos to phone and tell GMA to scrap VFA

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday issued a patriotic advisory urging all Filipinos to phone or email the Office of the President and tell President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to scrap the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

At the sideline of the re-launching of broad Junk VFA Movement this morning held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap asked decent thinking, nationalist and patriotic Filipinos to barrage President Arroyo with phone calls and emails urging her government to terminate the defense pact.

“Let us barrage the Office of the President with phone calls and emails asking the no.1 US puppet in Asia to stop her puppetry and perform in accordance with the patriotic and collective interest of the people. This is one way of teaching Mrs. Arroyo that national sovereignty, truth and justice are non-negotiable even if she received 1 million calls from US President Barack Obama, the Pamalakaya leader said.

In their patriotic advisory, Pamalakaya urged all decent and patriotic Filipinos to rise above the occasion and demand from President the scrapping of the VFA, the junking of RP-US joint military exercises and the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

The advisory also contained information where the people could contact President Arroyo like the Palace hotlines—-+63 (2) 564-1451 to 80; +63 (2) 735-8005, the Office of the President’s fax number— +63(2) 736-1010 and the president’s public email corres@op.gov.ph

“Mrs. Arroyo should listen to the voice of the Filipino people against VFA and must entertain and listen to the demand of the Filipino people struggling and asserting their sovereign rights, instead of chasing Obama who is following the terrorist and global police dog regime of US President George W. Bush,” the anti-VFA advisory said.

Pamalakaya, its regional affiliate Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol and other anti-VFA groups in Albay yesterday staged a 50-boat fluvial protest against the defense treaty and the upcoming Balikatan exercises.

The Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya said 50 fishing boats assembled in San Roque, Albay at around 8:00 a.m and sailed towards Legaspi City pier by 9:00 a.m. The protesters aboard 50 boats reached the city’s main port by 10:00 a.m where they held a one-hour protest against VFA and Balikatan.

Pamalakaya 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 group said 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. #

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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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Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said a Balikatan-induced fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot, all in Albay province are now in progress affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The Balikatan-engineered fish ban in aid of curfew was the subject of this morning’s protest at the Department of Agriculture (DA), where fisherfolk activists denounced the fish ban. They asked Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to recall fish ban and add his voice to the mounting opposition against the series of RP-US joint military exercises scheduled in Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur this April.

Around 15 activists from Pamalakaya, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation and the student group Nnara-Youth roasted a huge “tambakol” fish at the main entrance gate of agriculture department in Quezon City. Pamalakaya said “tambakol is one of the fish species, small fisherfolk used to catch in the fishing waters of the region.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also challenged Secretary Yap to call for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and reject the proposal of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform (BFAR) Region V officer in charge Celso del Soccoro to implement a Bicol-wide fish ban once the Balikatan exercises go on full blast this April.

“The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot is being effectively utilized to effect a fish ban during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the VFA,” added Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France, the local government units and barangay officials have started implementing 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am since February 23.

“Fishermen usually go to the sea for fishing from 8:00 in the evening and they will go back home in the morning of next day. That’s the normal practice. Now because there’s an ongoing curfew that subjects all people from all age groups, the fisherfolk are effectively banned from fishing. We don’t usually fish from 5:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening, which is the time table now set for all fishing activities in Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot,” said France.

France said the implementation of curfew in three coastal towns of Albay confirmed previous report that the DA and BFAR will impose a six-month fish ban in Bicol region beginning April in connection with Balikatan exercises.

“We ask Secretary Arthur Yap to clarify this matter. The fish ban is tantamount to massacre of Bicolano fisher people rights and livelihood. This not only illegal, unconstitutional and immoral, but also super diabolical and all-out evil and puppetry. The VFA should be abrogated in order to stop the mass production of mayhem to the people,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said if fish ban is totally effected all over the Bicol region, it will affect the livelihood of more than 100,000 small fishermen in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate connecting the rich the fishing grounds of Albay Gulf, Ragay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay.

The US war ships are expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training.

Pamalakaya told Secretary Yap the six-month RP-US joint military exercises will affect the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tabaco City in Albay province, and Prieto Diaz, Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Matnog, Casiguran, Bulan, Joban, Donsol, Pilar Magallanes, Castilla and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province, and nearby coastal municipalities in Masbate province.

“We challenge Secretary Yap to rise above the occasion and add his voice against the Balikatan exercises in Bicol. The RP-US military exercises cannot and will never be a good substitute to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and the fish security of the people,” the group said.

“There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the street and in the court of public opinion. Over a hundred thousand fishermen will lose their livelihood to this crazy and shameful military stint known as Balikatan exercises. We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” Pamalakaya said.

“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,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. The group 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,” the group added. #

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Bicol fishers agree to VFA abrogation, call for indefinite suspension of Balikatan exercises in the region

Bicol fishers agree to VFA abrogation, call for indefinite suspension of Balikatan exercises in the region

The Lakas ng Mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) a regional alliance of small fisherfolk organizations today welcomed the proposal of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Joker Arroyo to abrogate the 10-year old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) saying it is about time for the Manila government to say no to Washington’s political-military arrogance, intervention and aggression to the country.

“The Manila government should welcome the proposal of Senators Arroyo and Santiago on the scrapping of the military agreement in the national of national interest. The refusal of the US government to yield custody of US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is a lucid testimony that Washington D.C will not honor the sovereign rights of the Filipino people as a nation,” said Salvador France, Lambat-Bicol chairperson.

France, also the vice-chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said lawmakers should push through with the abrogation of VFA even if the US decided to yield the custody of the convicted US rapist to the government.

“There should be no exchange deal here. The abrogation of VFA must be of paramount importance to the Filipino people, and attached to this matter is the taking of custody of Smith away from US authority since the crime is done in the Philippine soil,” the Bicolano fisherfolk leader added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap dared Senators Arroyo and Santiago to immediately call for the indefinite suspension of the scheduled Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, while the abrogation of the VFA and the fight of the custody of Cpl. Smith are still being decided by the decision makers in the government.

“It is lawful, objective and morally upright for the Macapagal-Arroyo government to immediately and indefinitely suspend the holding of RP-US joint military exercises in Bicol and other parts of the country, while these issues are stake and being resolved by different branches of the government and the national public,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the indefinite suspension that he wanted to end to scrapping of the VFA should also lead the country’s lawmakers in both Houses of Congress to investigate what it called “alleged an illegal and puzzling” census conducted by US troops and personnel in Sorsogon and other provinces of the Bicol region ahead of the RP-US joint military exercises.

“That census is illegal and unconstitutional. Seeing in on a larger political context, the census conducted by American servicemen in Bicol is Washington’s political-military intervention to the highest order. Nobody gives the US military servicemen and personnel the legal, moral and political right to conduct survey on our people. That is not really a survey activity, but surveillance of foreign state on a nation state and this is again a material evidence to argue for the abrogation of the treaty,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the committees on foreign relations and national defense of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should conduct a separate or joint congressional inquiry into what he called an invasion of public life in the name of US war on terror.

“The Bicol wide Balikatan escapade is a direct attack to the national sovereign rights of the Filipino people. The Senate and the House of Representatives through their respective committees should conduct an all-out congressional probe on this matter,” the group said.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol reported that a number of US troops and personnel were frequently seen in Barangay Liyang, Irosin town in Sorsogon province conducting preliminary survey and surveillance ahead of the Balikatan exercises scheduled to begin in April this year.

In the same report, small fishermen started seeing US personnel conducting “census” in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed.

But Col. Rodolfo Santiago, the military’s Executive Agent for the Balikatan Exercises confirmed the census being conducted by US troops in Sorsogon, adding it was necessary to identify potential beneficiaries of the Balikatan projects like civil works, medical and dental missions and rehabilitation and construction of facilities. The military in Bicol said the humanitarian, relief and construction activities of US troops engaged in Balikatan will benefit around 11,000 Bicolanos.

Santiago said the US soldiers who will be sent to Bicol region are non-combatants and composed only of doctors, veterinarians and construction workers. The Balikatan executive agent added that the actual RP-US joint military exercises will be held in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, and Crow Valley Range and Clark Air Field in Pampanga.

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Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday said small fishermen in the Bicol region started seeing an unidentified number of US military personnel as early as first to second week of January conducting ocular inspection in various parts of the Bicol.

In an initial report forwarded by Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol), the regional chapter of Pamalakaya, it revealed that US military personnel were seen conducting initial surveillance operations in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also said Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed.

The Pamalakaya leader said a number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province

“They are coming by batches and appeared to be gearing for an active stunt as if the entire Bicol region is the new Iraq or Afghanistan for Washington D.C in 2009. The US military troops are seemed gearing for an all-out military intervention that could develop into a US war of aggression in the region. This senseless Balikatan exercises must be stopped at all cost,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya also assailed the looming imposition of six month to one year fish ban in the entire Bicol region once the RP-US joint military exercises go full blast this April. The group said in anticipation to the US war ships expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training, the government would resort to ban fishing in Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay, three of the major fishing areas in Bicol and home to more than 100,000 small fisherfolk.

Pamalakaya said BFAR-Region V will ban fishing in the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tobaco City in Albay province, and Prieto Diaz, Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Matnog, Casiguran, Bulan, Joban, Donsol, Pilar Magallanes, Castilla and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province, and nearby coastal municipalities in Masbate province.

“We saw it coming. There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the street and in the court of public opinion. Over a hundred thousand fishermen will lose their livelihood to this crazy and shameful military stint known as Balikatan exercises. We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” the group said.

“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,” added Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya 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,” it said. #

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