Wednesday, February 02, 2005

NR0202:Summon MDB Board to Congress

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release February 2, 2005

Solon demands Congress summon members of RP-US Mutual Defense Board and hold
them accountable for reports of abuses of US and R P troops during the conduct
of Balikatan exercises

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that Congress should summon
the members of the joint RP-US Mutual Defense Board and give a report on the
Balikatan exercises that took place in the last year, as well as divulge the
MDB's plans for 2005 including the upcoming series of exercises.

The MDB is composed of some 40 members from the US Embassy, the Department of
National Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Beltran said that these
members should be made known to the public and thus be held accountable for all
reports of abuses on the part of US troops and RP forces during the conduct
of the Balikatan exercises.

"Who exactly is overseeing the workings of the MDB and why is it they US
military is clearly calling the shots in the planning and execution of plans
of the MDB? I am under the impression that the Philippine government hasgiven
free reign to the MDB when it comes to the deployment of US troops alongside
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in all areas in the country, allowing
them to conduct exercises wherever its suits their agenda ," he said.

"The series of Balikatan exercises in the last two years have not been conducted
random or without clear politico-military motives that are also connected to the
US' economic plans in the country. The Macapagal-Arroyo administration has not
released any comprehensive report detailing the developments in the Balikatan,
and certainly there has been no established committee or group monitoring the
actions of US troops and their impact on civilian residents and communities,"
he said.

"There has been no response whatsoever to the assertions and findings of human
rights organizations and church groups in Mindanao, for instance, regarding the
human rights violations perpetrated by US soldiers and AFP members in the course
of the conduct of the Balikatan exercises," he insisted.

Beltran said that he found it an outrage that the Macapagal-Arroyo
administration is clearly determined to make the presence of US troops in the
country a permanent thing.

"The continuation of US-RP Balikatan exercises remain a clear-cut violation of
the country's sovereignty and patrimony laws. There is no justifying the
presence of foreign troops on Philippine territory, and certainly the supposed
scourge of terrorism is not an excuse that washes. For years the US military
forces remained in the Philippines until they were booted out in 1991, but the
they did nothing to help improve the fighting or technical capabilities of
the AFP. The US troops are in the country to secure the US government's own
mercenary and self-serving political, economic and military agenda. Their very
presence is a violation of the Constitution." #


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