From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 25): US troops’ heavy presence down south comes under fire
The Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives on Monday condemned the presence of around 6,000 US troops in Mindanao, a figure that even surpasses current US military deployment in Iraq.
“While the Aquino administration harps about largely-imagined development in the human rights situation in the country, it has allowed heavy foreign military deployment in Mindanao,” one of the group’s members, Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said.
“The presence of thousands of US troops in Mindanao adds to the fact that majority of the Philippine Army’s forces are deployed in the area. This large-scale deployment bodes ill for the people of Mindanao, many of whom have already been internally displaced and lost jobs and loved ones due to the heavy militarization of the area,” Ridon said.
“Manilakbayan,” a protest caravan composed of people of Mindanao that journeyed to Manila, has revealed that as many as 6,000 American soldiers are stationed at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
Hundreds of people have joined the long journey from Mindanao to Manila to expose the worsening human rights situation in several provinces in Mindanao. Manilakbayan has documented multiple cases of human rights violations, and even the entry of military forces in schools.
A protest program was held Monday at Mendiola in Manila to denounce the intensified militarization of regions in Mindanao.
“Heavy deployment of combined US and Philippine forces in Mindanao has severely affected the lives of people living there, especially the indigenous peoples and their children. There are several reports of schools being turned into barracks, hamletting of entire communities, and hundreds of indigenous people driven away from their ancestral homes due to militarization,” Ridon said.