By Asian Peasant Coalition
Manila, PHILIPPINES — The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) decried the violent dispersal on March 29 against peasants that storm the US embassy to oppose the planned joint military exercises between US and Philippine troops set on April 16 to 27 this year.
More than 100 protesters belong to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN), Union of Agricultural Workers (UMA) and the National Federation of Small Fisherfolks of the Philippines (PAMALAKAYA) attack the US embassy with paint bombs.
According to Zenaida Soriano, AMIHAN President and APC Coordinating Council member, “we went to the US embassy to voice out our resistance against the so-called ‘war games’ between US and Philippine troops coupled with forced displacements and human rights violations in the countryside.”
“We are about to start our program in front of the US Embassy when the Philippine National Police (PNP) violently dispersed us. They did not respect our rights to freedom of assembly. Women protesters were not spare from the police brutality,” exclaimed Soriano.
“ Farmers are the most affected by military operations before, during, and after the Balikatan exercises,” says Danilo Ramos KMP and APC secretary general.
The entry of 4,500 US troops next month will be an additional deployment to the more than 600 US troops under the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines that are now “permanently based at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City,” Ramos revealed.
Ramos said that “Balikatan under President Aquino is no less than a continuation of pro-US, militarist policies that counter our national sovereignty and patrimony. By allowing Balikatan, President Aquino authorized indefinite US military presence in the country.”
Ramos announced that “together with Central Luzon farmers, the KMP will hold a caravan and launch protest actions at the former Clark Air Base in Pampanga on April 16, the start of the Balikatan exercises.”
“Aquino’s all-out surrender of the country’s sovereignty shows the continuing master-puppet relationship between the US and the Philippines,” the peasant leaders said.
Ramos and Soriano called on all freedom-loving and patriotic forces in the Philippines to “assert national sovereignty and resist the US’ increasing military intervention in the country.”
The protest at the US embassy coincides with APCs 9th anniversary on March 29 and a kick-off of a year-long celebration of “A Decade of APC” that will culminate on March 29, 2013. #
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