Tag Archives: Bicol

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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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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