CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com/6-April-2013) – Various youth groups joined a 2-day protest caravan on Friday, from Metro Manila to Central Luzon, marking their strong protest on the joint US-PH military exercises Balikatan, which the protesters believed as ploy for an impending US military adventurism on North Korea, said a communique sent to BicolToday.com on Saturday.
Members of League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Kabataan Partylist joined the two-day caravan to Central Luzon to protest the Balikatan exercises that have kicked off Friday. .
The protesters move was timely as tensions have been building up at the West Philippine Sea as US naval ships started converging in the area following North Korea’s threat to use military might against South Korea.
The youth groups believed the Philippines’ kowtowing US military interests might drag the country into an unwanted war and turmoil.
Last year, US President Obama had said the US is shifting its military focus on the Asia-Pacific, and frequent US naval visits and military exercises with other Asian countries had been observed since the shift in US policy.
Other groups also joined an early morning march from the People Power Monument in EDSA to Camp Aguinaldo, where military top brass from both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US military have formally launched 2-week joint military training until April 17, wherein over 8,000 troops will participate.
The protesters said the ongoing Balikatan exercises is a “mere cover-up for the US war preparations for an impending attack in the Korean peninsula.”
“Continuing the annual Balikatan exercises in the light of mounting tension in the Korean peninsula exposes the Filipino people to the perils of a military conflict that we have nothing to do with. Essentially, the US military is dragging the Philippines to its military exploits against North Korea,” said Kabataan Partylist President Terry Ridon.
LFS Spokesperson Issa Baguisi said the 2013 Balikatan exercises might be a “cover up of the US military to prepare its forces and ammunition for the attack against North Korea.” “The joint exercise is ill-timed, and it is highly probable that the troops are training for the Korean war,” Baguisi explained.
Launching pad for Korean attack
In the guise of Balikatan, the US military has deployed dozens of aircrafts and warships in the past weeks.
“Combined with the increasing number of US troops deployed in the Philippines as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the frequency of port calls and arrivals of US warships in the country, it is clear that the US military is preparing to use the Philippines as a launching pad for attacks against North Korea,” Baguisi said.
Last year, US President Barack Obama himself said that the US is shifting its military focus to Asia-Pacific, with the US military conducting several joint exercises with countries such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Attack against sovereignty
Meanwhile, Ridon also stated that the continued presence in the country lambasts our national sovereignty and perpetuate US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.
“The Balikatan exercises is in fact an annual renewal of vows of sorts between the dominant and the dominated. The so-called joint military exercises, which is portrayed as a humanitarian and disaster preparedness effort, is in fact a brazen demand for us to kowtow to their military exploits,” Ridon said.
“The youth denounces in the strongest possible terms the continued presence of US troops in the country. We are not fooled by the thinly-disguised war preparations. The Philippines should not again be dragged into one of the exploitative US wars,” Ridon said. [BicolToday.com]