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US Troops Sighted in Hacienda Luisita, Possible Venue of 2011 US-RP Balikatan Exercises Published on November 6, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

US Troops Sighted in Hacienda Luisita, Possible Venue of 2011 US-RP Balikatan Exercises

Published on November 6, 2010 After experiencing heavy deployment of AFP troops, the peasants of Hacienda Luisita are bracing for the entry of US troops who would be conducting ‘trainings’ inside the hacienda.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO

Bulatlat.com
MANILA — Residents of Hacienda Luisita first noticed the presence of US troops in the hacienda sometime in September 2010. Since then, news have been circulating that a three-story building would be constructed within the hacienda purportedly to serve as evacuation and health center. Peasant leaders find this suspicious.

“This is definitely a plan of the U.S.-Cojuanco-Aquino regime to crush the so-called insurgency in our province,” United Luisita Workers’ Union acting president Lito Bais told Bulatlat. He added that the issues affecting the hacienda are but an agrarian dispute, which has been going on for more than half a century already.

Hacienda Luisita is a 6,453 real property, co-owned by President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Cojuangco clan that has been going through an agrarian dispute for more than half a century already. The Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee ruled in 2005 to distribute the land to the peasants. The Cojuanco-Aquino family, however, filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the distribution of the land before the Supreme Court, which was granted in 2006. The high court has yet to decide on the issue even as a TRO is supposedly effective for only 20 days.

U.S. soldiers arrived sometime in September 2010 in Barangay (village) Bantog and asked Greg Gardanoso, a village official, who the barangay captain was. Since then, residents have been hearing of a plan by US troops to construct an evacuation center in the hacienda. Bais, however, sees these seemingly humanitarian services as a “front act” to their real agenda: the conduct of Balikatan military exercises.

Balikatan Exercises in the Hacienda 

Balikatan, which literally means “shoulder-to-shoulder,” is an annual joint military exercise being conducted by Philippine and U.S. Armed Forces. These exercises are being held by virtue of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Despite the strong clamor from progressive groups for the junking of the VFA, as well as the MDT, President Aquino has not acted on it..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/06/us-troops-sighted-in-hacienda-luisita-possible-venue-of-2011-us-rp-balikatan-exercises/

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