From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 9): ‘PH-US military exercises a cover to open mining activities’—church group
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Militant groups are up in arms against the holding
of the joint US-Philippine Balikatan exercises in typhoon Pablo-affected areas,
saying US troops are only using it to set foot in mine-reach areas in Mindanao
in the name of humanitarian assistance.
“Balikatan 2013 will only intensify the implementation of ‘Oplan Bayanihan’
in the hinterlands of Mindanao, especially in Davao regions where
American-controlled mining corporations are presently devouring mineral deposits
and resources,” Philippine Independent Church Bishop Antonio Ablon, chairperson
of Patriotiko Mindanao, said in a statement.
Ablon was reacting to the statement of US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.
about the so-called “strong collaboration” between the armed forces of the US
and the Philippines in extending aid to typhoon Pablo survivors in December
“This is a (signal) that American forces, through the Balikatan military
exercises, will again set foot here in Mindanao in the name of humanitarian
relief operations,” Ablon said as militant groups led by the Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan (Bayan) trooped to Camp Panacan here, expressing their protest.
Earlier, the group led protesting Pablo survivors, who demanded their share
of the relief goods distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) but which they claimed they failed to receive. The protests
ended up with Pablo survivors taking matters into their own hands by taking
sacks of rice kept inside a DSWD warehouse.
“Again, we raise our fists and voices to condemn the exercise that truly
manifests the continued intrusion of US imperialism into the sovereignty of our
country,” Ablon said as the Philippines and the United States formally commenced
the 29th Balikatan military exercise on April 5. The joint military exercises
will involve more than 8,000 combined Filipino and American forces.
“We demand the immediate pull-out of military troops and armaments from the
Philippines,” he said.
“Just like the previous joint military exercises, today’s Balikatan is clad
with sweet rhetoric of humanitarianism and assistance to communities,” he added.
“This year’s fusion of Balikatan and ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ will certainly
displace more ‘Pablo’ victims, especially the Lumads, already deprived of their
ancestral lands and their right to self determination,” he said.
He said foreign mining companies have been hotly eyeing Mindanao’s rich
mining resources, mostly concentrated in the lumad’s ancestral lands.
He urged people to “unite” and “to oppose in all fronts the US dominance in