April 16, 2012
Various groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) will kick off on Monday nationwide actions to protest the Balikatan exercises that will start on the same day. The ILPS will also be spearheading international solidarity protests against the Balikatan exercises. Protesters from Manila are traveling from Quezon City to Clark Airbase and Basa Airbase for a one-day caravan. In Mindanao, an island-wide caravan will kick-off on April 16 and would converge in Zamboanga City on April 20, where the 600 US Special Forces have been based since 2002.
Umbrella group Bayan warned the Philippine government against inviting US involvement in regional issues such as the Chinese naval incursions in Scarborough Shoal and the recent North Korea rocket launch. It said that the US will intervene only to advance its own agenda of trying to maintain a dominant presence in the region. The move will certainly complicate the dispute, the group said.
“The Balikatan exercises is but part of a bigger design to make US troops a permanent fixture in the Philippines, even without any formal basing treaty. The hype surrounding the North Korean rocket launch, and the US statements on the disputes in the South China Sea are clearly intended to justify the permanent presence of American troops in Philippine territory and the region,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The US wants it known that it is still top dog in this region, to the great dismay of many peace-loving peoples in Southeast Asia. We do not want our country to be used as a US outpost and playground. We are not a laboratory for US drone wars. We do not want the US meddling in our internal conflicts and regional issues. We do not want the Philippines acting like the US troops’ doormat in the region. We do not want US troops using our country as their RnR destination of choice,” Reyes added.
Bayan said that even if the Philippine government denies that the exercises are aimed against China, the US government has made it sufficiently clear as to the purpose of the war games.
“We should endeavor to stand up against China minus any US intervention,” he added.
In the document “Sustaining US Global Leadership, Priorities for 21st Century Defense” released by the White House in January 2012, the US government said that “U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia, creating a mix of evolving challenges and opportunities. Accordingly, while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”,” the document said.
“Over the long term, China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the U.S. economy and our security in a variety of ways… In order to credibly deter potential adversaries and to prevent them from achieving their objectives, the United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged. States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities,” it added.
By April 30, the US and Philippine governments will be meeting in Washington to finalize details of the deployment of added US troops in the Philippines. News reports say US Marines from Okinawa are being moved to Guam and rotated to countries like Australia and the Philippines.
The ILPS said that more protests are expected on April 16 in areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York in the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
US bases are present in South Korea and Japan. Some 200 US troops meanwhile have moved to Australia recently under a new agreement between the US and Australian governments. ###