US Troops Out Now! Mindanao
Statement on the 17th
anniversary of the rejection of the US Military Bases Treaty
Bishop Felixberto Calang
Mobile # 0918-929-4244
Seventeen years since historic "Magnificent 12" vote Senate should curb US
military's unconcealed, uninterrupted presence in Mindanao
The Out Now! Mindanao Coalition condemns American insolence towards
Philippine national sovereignty with the unconcealed and uninterrupted
presence of US military forces and their obvious involvement in local
We call on the Senate to live up to the nationalist stance of the
Magnificent 12 senators who voted to oust the US Bases in September 16,
1991 by moving to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement and the US-RP
Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.
There is more than enough evidence of US transgression of Philippine
sovereignty especially in Mindanao . These involve engagement in combat
operations, intelligence-gathering, and "social reconnaissance", not to
mention US meddling in the government's peace negotiations with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These evidences should lead to the
scrapping of the VFA, ten years after it has legalized the reentry of
American forces on Philippine soil.
The US-led Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines holds
headquarters in Camp Navarro , Zamboanga City . US military forces have
special infrastructure there to cater to its personnel, war equipment and
Scores of human rights violations perpetrated by US troops have also been
reported since the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002 in Basilan.
The most atrocious of these is the incident in Maimbung, Sulu last
February 4, 2008 where four US soldiers were sighted joining an operation
that killed eight civilians in a fishing community that included two
children and a pregnant woman.
These violations have been
kept under the rug either because victims were no longer interested to
litigate or they entered into amicable settlements to avoid prolonged and
US military vessels have had limitless access to Philippine territorial
waters. The USS Vandegrift made port calls in Cotabato City , General
Santos, and Cagayan de Oro City. They were closely guarded in these ports
and media access was limited. The Arroyo government never disclosed the
terms of reference governing these port calls.
US civilian and military officials themselves have uttered policy remarks
that verify US troops operations on the ground that go beyond the nature
of war exercises.
Francis Ricciardone, then US ambassador, had claimed in 2005 that the US
is involved in 'intel-ops fusion,' an operation which has all the marks of
espionage. A paper by Astrid Tuminez, senior research director at the US
Institute of Peace, also pointed out US military intelligence support to
the AFP during airstrikes against MILF forces in the Butilan Marsh on
three separate instances in 2004 and 2005.
The Arroyo government has tried to exhibit so much bravado to defend
Philippine sovereignty in relation to the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement
on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). But it shrugs its shoulders with the wanton
display of arrogance of American forces with their patently illegal basing
on Philippine soil. Secretary Eduardo Ermita justifies the continued stay
of US military forces with the most trivial reasons. But Ermita's levity
only belies the gravity of violations on the national sovereignty
committed by American troops with the approval of the Arroyo government.
Such double-speak points to the unconscionable subservience of the Arroyo
government to the United States . And Arroyo's approval to the unabashed
operations of US troops in Mindanao and the rest of the country is a
disservice to the Filipino people's historic struggle to oust foreign
troops in 1991.