April 19, 2012
Bayan Muna pushes for independent inquiry over fisherman’s death
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Progressive partylist group Bayan Muna pushes for an immediate independent inquiry over the killing of Ahbam Juhurin, a local fisher folk from Basilan, after a US warship collided with his boat on Wednesday, April 18.
The tragic incident happened while US troops were conducting maritime exercises in Baluk-baluk, an island near Hadji Muhtamad municipality in Basilan province. The incident led to the death of Juhurin, 56, while his 26-year old son is reportedly under critical condition.
“It’s been only three days since the US-PH Balikatan Exercises formally started, and an innocent man now lies in a coffin. Juhurin’s death further magnifies the prejudice and malevolence of the Visiting forces Agreement (VFA) and other military accords of the Philippine government with a warmonger like the US government,” Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna’s Southern Mindanao Regional Coordinator, said during the Lakbayan Laban sa Balikatan 2012.
Casilao furthered, “The US troops’ have maintained immunity from Philippine laws despite their involvement in heinous crimes against Filipinos and the Bangsamoro. Neither the brutal killing of Gregan Cardeño in 2010 and the rape of Nicole in 2005 has been rendered justice. As long as the US military is treated ‘above the law’ by the government, the people will not see justice despite the glaring guilt and impunity of the US military.”
Bayan Muna recounted the investigation of the slain interpreter Gregan Cardeño, where even the Commission on Human Rights was not allowed to inspect the US military base in Marawi.
“We are calling on the Senate to immediately move for the abrogation of the VFA. Philippine sovereignty is being undermined right before our eyes and the government must rise above its subjugation from US hegemony,” Casilao said.
Bayan Muna has been pushing for the abrogation of VFA which was based on the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951 and other pro-US government agreements which make the US troops immune to Philippine laws.
More than 3,000 sojourners from various provinces in Mindanao called for the scrapping of VFA during the Lakbayan Laban sa Balikatan 2012 led by Patriyotiko Mindanao. The more than 500-kilometer lakbayanended in Ipil, Zamboanga today and culminated with the burning of a US flag.