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Balikatan in Nueva Ecija: Farmers Fear More Rights Abuses, Displacement

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Balikatan in Nueva Ecija: Farmers Fear More Rights Abuses, Displacement

MANILA — Immediately in the wake of announcements that at least 6,000 American troops will be arriving in the Philippines to participate in the Balikatan joint military exercises, an alliance of peasant groups and their supporters from ecumenical formations declared their opposition. The farmers groups said that the presence of more military forces in the areas where the exercises will be held is certain to result in more human-rights violations against civilians. They also said that farmers will be facing renewed threats of eviction.

The public affairs officer of the Balikatan exercises representing the Philippines, Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, recently announced that the American troops will join 2,000 Filipino soldiers in a series of exercises beginning April 10. For the next 10 days, the combined forces will hold exercises at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (WESCOM) in Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Field training exercises will be held in various training sites, namely in the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR), the headquarters of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and Special Operations Command in Nueva Ecija; Basa Air Base and Clark Air Base, both in Pampanga; Crow Valley Range in Tarlac; Naval Station L. Gantioqui in Zambales; Sangley Point in Cavite City; Marine Base Ternate in Cavite; and in Mactan Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City.

“Exercise Balikatan 2011 is a great opportunity to conduct training which is vital in maintaining the readiness and interoperability of the AFP and U.S. Armed Forces,” said Armed Forces chief of staff Eduardo Oban Jr., according to a report by the Philippine Information Agency. The report said “the conduct of Balikatan allows a long and lasting partnership, founded firmly on common heritage between two freedom-loving countries committed to the preservation of liberty and democracy.”

Peasant leaders during the Lakbayan ng mga Magbubukid in October 2009, which also denounced the military’s continued claim of Fort Magsaysay. (Photo courtesy of Tanggol Magsasaka / bulatlat.com)

A local peasant group said that military exercises in the FMMR should be banned the same way that the whole Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allows said exercises should be scrapped. The Alyansa ng Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya ng Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (ALMANA 3,100) has been campaigning against military interference in the 3,100 hectare land, while the residents in the military reservation have been fighting for their right to own the land since the 1960s..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/12/balikatan-in-nueva-ecija-farmers-fear-more-rights-abuses-displacement/


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