Out Now! demands that Malacaang scrap VFA

Mar. 05, 2009

Out Now! demands that Malacaang scrap VFA

Joining calls from legislators and from the Filipino people, Out Now! Mindanao Coalition calls on Malacaang to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to stop further violations to sovereignty and human rights committed by US troops in the country.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo remains the only defender of the VFA but she must heed the Senate and House of Representatives who are calling for the scrapping of the one-sided agreement. Furthernore, she must heed the calls of the people to uphold our national sovereignty.

The case of Cpl. Daniel Smith, now reduced to who has rightful custody, is just one of the many violations that the US troops have committed against the Filipino people.

Here in Mindanao, the US troops have reared their ugly head with their atrocities. In 2002 in Basilan, Isnaji Buyung-Buyung was shot right inside his home by US Sgt. Reggie Lane, who accompanied AFP troops in a ground operation. In 2008, in a fishing village in Maimbung, Sulu, eight people including a pregnant woman and children were killed in their homes by soldiers reportedly accompanied again by US troops. In 2007, Buh Bizma Johan of Sulu was injured when a grenade fired during a US-led exercises misfired and landed at her home.

In various instances and places in Mindanao, US spy planes have crashed or were seen hovering over villages, a clear proof of intelligence gathering on Philippine territory. US troops have also aided the AFP in actual combat operations as shown in Baliki, North Cotabato, in Sulu, Basilan, and Butilan Marsh in Maguindanao.

These cases, which happened far from the reach of national media, show the grave dangers the people of Mindanao face when US troops are here. The alleged perpetrators have not been prosecuted, since the VFA provides immunity to American soldiers from prosecution over such cases. With the recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the constitutionality of the VFA, the floodgates are now open to further violations and transgression of Philippine sovereignty.

It is with utmost concern that we urge our national officials should look into this affront to our country.

We also hope that Senators Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defens0r-Santiago and Francis Pangilinan are serious in their statements to abrogate the VFA. We likewise support House Resolution No. 458 introduced by progressive partylist lawmakers calling for the abrogation of the VFA in light of the many cases of US troops’ violations of Philippine laws (including the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith). If we are to end the insult and injury to our nation, then we must scrap the VFA and send the US troops away from our country.

For reference:

Bishop Felixberto Calang, IFI
US Troops Out Now! Mindanao Coalition

(Backgrounder: Out Now! Mindanao is a coalition of patriotic organizations and individuals oppose to US military intervention in the Philippines. The coalition launched regional rallies last February in Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, Cotabato, Iligan, and General Santos City at the height of Balikatan Exercises in Mindanao. Bishop Calang appeared in the Senate Committee hearing last September 25, 2008 to present cases of US military intervention in Mindanao.)

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