Monday, January 16, 2006

NR0116: US troops

News Release
January 16, 2006. Monday

Activist solon slams influx of more US military troops for war games; says US troops wanted in Subic rape case should be placed in RP custody and prosecuted instead of allowing more war games

“The Philippines should better get custody of the wanted US Marines in the Subic rape case first, instead of allowing more RP-US war games to proceed any further,” Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran proposed today.

Beltran slammed the influx of more US military troops in the country this weekend. Three US military aircraft carrying 500 US Army personnel landed at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at the Clark Special Economic Zone last Saturday for the war exercise Balance Piston 2006 from January 20 to February 8. Five more C-130 US cargo planes carrying more US troops are scheduled to arrive today.

“It's a slap in the face to see how the war exercises have proceeded with such regular impunity in the face of the ongoing indignation at the Subic rape case. As if the violation of one Filipina's rights by US troops—who continue to evade custody of Philippine law enforcers-- does not constitute a serious infringement of our national sovereignty that should be dealt with seriously,” Beltran added.

The staunch activist solon warned of “more possible human rights violations against Filipinos as the large-scale Balikatan 2006 training starts next month”. More than 5,000 American troops will be present in Ternate, Cavite; Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales; Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija; and O’ Donnel reservation in Tarlac for the said exercise.

“Warrants of arrest for the US troops involved in the rape have already been served by the local courts. If it indeed claims to uphold the Filipino peoples' interests over that of the US, the Arroyo administration should seriously consider calling for a halt of the ongoing exercises until the wanted U.S. Marines are brought into Philippine custody for trial,” Beltran said.

“If we can not guarantee our right to prosecution and custody of a handful of errant foreign troops in this single case, then how much more can we guarantee protection for millions of other Filipinos in any other more cases to come? It will only show that the Philippine government is proud to be treated with impunity rather than interrupt the calendar of US-RP war 'exercises',” he said.

“Of course, our unilateral termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is always an option that the Philippine government should seriously consider,” Beltran added, “since the presence of United States armed forces as a positive contribution to the stability of the Philippines has been consistently proved false by many human rights violations of Filipino citizens incidental to the US-RP war games.”

The activist solon advised public officials handling the Subic rape case and the VFA to uphold the interests of the Philippines first.

“It's high time to stop acting like servile spokespersons for the US Army and instead, fulfill our duties as genuine Filipino statesmen,” Beltran ended. ###


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