Anti-Balikatan 2011 caravan*
April 21, 2011
Patriotic mass organizations launched a series of protest actions against the US-RP Balikatan Exercises 2011 held in Central Luzon. The latest was a caravan led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas last April 15 that kicked off from Quezon City towards Central Luzon.
The caravan was blocked by policemen and armed guards at the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSPEZ) in Angeles City. But the rallyists asserted their right to peaceful assembly and dismantled the barricades put up by the CSPEZ security force.
After a short program that included the burning of a replica of the US flag, the caravan headed for Camp Servillano Aquino in Barangay San Miguel, Tarlac City. They were welcomed by peasants from Tarlac and the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Nueva Ecija under BAYAN-CL.
The rallyists assailed Balikatan as an act of treason against national sovereignty and a reversal of the people's victory in 1991 when they were able to expel the US military bases. They also expressed disappointment with Benigno Aquino III for his decision to push through with Balikatan.
The peasants said that Balikatan was useless to the farmers of Central Luzon. The presence of American and Filipino soldiers is even being used to intimidate peasants who have been asserting their rights, including those who have been struggling against the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Lui-sita.
The Balikatan Exercises 2011 held April 5-15 was the biggest joint military exercise since the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was implemented in the 1990s. Joined by 10,000 soldiers (5,000 from the US and another 5,000 from the AFP), the military exercise included deceptive civil-military operations such as medical, dental and veterinary services and civic action.
Nonetheless, no matter how much the US and the Aquino regime deodorize it, there is no denying the fact that the military exercise is a massive counterinsurgency operation conducted by American troops within Philippine territory.