Out Now Mindanao to Hillary: Mindanaoans want VFA abrogated, pull out US troops now

Nov. 16, 2009

DAVAO CITY The US Troops Out Now! Mindanao Coalition believes that United States Secretary of State Hilary Clintons rhetoric of supporting peace in Mindanao must begin with the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the pull out some 600 embedded American soldiers in Mindanao, and the demolition of US military structures in the island.

Out Now! Mindanao stressed that the VFA is unconstitutional and that the Filipino people judge this as a lopsided agreement between the subservient Arroyo government and the worlds superpower.

The group also dared Clinton not to make a propaganda stint by highlighting Americas peace agenda in Mindanao because its hidden motive is to control the islands natural gas, oil and other resources, military basing areas, as well as international trade routes.

Convenor Bishop Rudy Juliada of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente said Clinton represents an American policy that has not changed even with the new administration of US President Barack Obama administration.

He cited Obamas reversal from his anti-war promises to the American people which swept him to power by repeating the war stance this time in Afghanistan.

Bishop Juliada said that they are apprehensive that Clinton upholds the same policy as former President George W. Bush did on the Philippines, in Mindanao in particular, as the second front of the US-led war on terror.

A statement released by the group said Clinton was the face of an imperialist and militarist Washington, and had never learned from its failure in their war in Iraq and Vietnam, which is why the US continues to commit the same mistakes in Afghanistan.

He said Clinton should see the VFA as a treaty that has enforced militarism in Mindanao, having brought about more problems rather than solutions such as violations of sovereignty and human rights.

Bishop Juliada cited cases where US soldiers have been involved in combat and espionage operations, including the recent ambush in Sulu which killed US soldiers in an operation.

On February 2008, families in Maimbung, Sulu were massacred by Philippine soldiers accompanied by US troops.

In a more recent incident, US soldiers have reportedly distributed coloring books to children in Lanao del Norte which contained messages of counter-terrorism. Out Now says that soldiers involved in these incidents cannot be charged for these crimes because of the VFA.

Theres no peace without justice for the victims, and there’s no peace when a superpower enforces this with a gun, Juliada said.

The coalition — formed by patriotic sectors from the religious, local officials, academe, lawyers and peoples organizations urges the scrapping of the VFA and calls on more pressure on the national government to heed such calls.

The group had earlier called for the abrogation of the VFA before a hearing of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in September 2008.

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