June 4, 2012
Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today hit the visit of America’s highest ranking military official, which the US Embassy in Manila announced on Sunday afternoon only and reported by the local media in the evening.
On Sunday, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Manila for a meeting today with General Jessie Dellosa, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). No details of the meeting were released by the US Embassy and Filipino officials.
However, talks are expected to center on the so-called US pivot to the Asia Pacific under the latest US military strategy. The meeting is also expected to tackle the ongoing tension between the Philippines and China over the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s obvious that officials intentionally delayed the public disclosure of Gen. Dempsey’s visit to avoid the usual controversy and preempt protests from groups strongly opposing increased US military presence and intervention in the country,” Bayan deputy secretary-general Eleanor de Guzman said.
De Guzman, however, assured Philippine and American officials that the people will continue to resist plans by the US military to station more elite troops in secret bases around the country, to conduct more training exercises under Balikatan, and to send more US warships in Philippine ports as part of the Obama administration’s rebalancing of forces towards Asia Pacific.
Bayan repeated its warning to the Aquino administration that its efforts to allow more US troops and ships in the country are creating serious threats to peace and stability in the region which will undermine the national interest and safety of the Filipino people. It cited the un-announced arrival in Subic Bay of a nuclear-powered US submarine last month that prompted China to deploy 5 warships close to Philippine maritime domain.
“We kicked out their large military bases but, in cahoots with Philippine officials, they were able to return through the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). Now, the entire country is in danger of becoming an even larger American military base with Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia. The decades of military intervention, of abuses and violation of our sovereignty as a people in the hands of American troops are enough,” said de Guzman.
Bayan said that it is organizing protest actions in Manila as well as in the US for the Washington visit of President Benigno Aquino III this week. #