exercises. (Photo by AMGL)
“We urge the people of Central Luzon to oppose the Balikatan exercises as they are an insult to us as a sovereign people who should be free from foreign military intervention and involvement,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson and Anakpawis Partylist – Central Luzon regional coordinator.
The groups said that military exercises launched by US and Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to affect the livelihood of farmers, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk, and threaten the safety of their communities. In the region, military exercises are to be held on April 5 to 17 in Subic Bay in Zambales, Camp O’ Donnell and Crow Valley in Tarlac province and Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur town, Nueva Ecija.
“During these exercises, farmers, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk are prohibited to attend their farms or go fishing, Subic Bay is a source of livelihood for fisherfolk communities in Zambales towns, Camp O’ Donnell and Crow Valley are lands cultivated by Ayta communities, Fort Magsaysay are cultivated by low-land and Igorot farmers. Their livelihood and safety are always threatened during these military exercises as they use live-round ammunitions and ordnance,” said Canlas.
The groups said that the exercises are also intended to secure US interests in the region and the whole country. They said that Central Luzon is aimed to be a “growth corridor,” where networks of super-highways are to be constructed to accelerate the plunder of the country’s natural resources, while converting productive agricultural lands mainly to adapt to the needs of foreign and local big businesses. As the Aquino government pushes through with its regional “development” program, it is opposed by poor mainly by the farming sector.
As the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is known to operate in the region, the groups said that it is also a target of the Balikatan exercises, as being part of the Aquino counter-insurgency program Operational Plan Bayanihan or the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP).
“The Aquino government and its American puppet-masters use the Balikatan exercises to show off its battle gear, in a futile attempt to terrify the people who struggle for their rights to land and national sovereignty,” Canlas said.
“The Aquino government is putting the whole country in serious risk, by being a puppet to US imperialism. While Aquino is concretely ignoring the plight of the Filipino people, he has the guts to be part of a war against a sovereign country,” he added.#