US troops in PH violates sovereignty, perpetuates impunity

“The permanent presence of US troops in the country, the unlimited access to Philippine facilities, including storage of arms, and the use of drones, are direct attacks against Philippine sovereignty and the people’s rights,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, on the talks between the US and Philippine governments which start today on the increase of rotational presence of American forces in the country.

As the Philippine government and US military officials gear to “formalize” the deployment of more US troops in the country, hundreds of residents of Loreto, Agusan del Sur left their homes and sources of livelihood, and opted to stay in an evacuation center to evade threats, harassment and intimidation by elements of the 26th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and paramilitary groups attached to it.  

Prior to the evacuation, two children, Jay-Ar  S. Basilisco, 17 years old, and Arnel B. Tolentino, 16, were detained on July 22, after they were accosted and tortured by elements of the 26th IBPA and the Bagani Force, a paramilitary group.  Their hands were tied, they were punched in the stomach, neck, and head. They were told to run at gun point but they refused knowing the possibility that they will be shot at. Basilisco’s lips were burned with cigarettes; bullets were inserted between his fingers.

Tolentino’s face was beaten; a calibre .357 was inserted in his mouth. Both Basilisco and Tolentino’s heads were wrapped in a plastic until they were unconscious. Later, they were charged with attempted murder for the death of Ramon Dioganon, a Barangay Captain of Brgy. Kauswagan. 

“This scenario has become familiar, and will be multiplied all over the country as the US government props up the Armed Forces of the Philippines with more troops, war materiel and training for the final push of Oplan Bayanihan’s last year of its Phase1,” said Palabay. 

Karapatan said Noynoy Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide and is implemented by the AFP under the guidance of the US.   

“Even as the AFP already admitted Oplan Bayanihan’s failure, the Aquino government is dead set on meeting its deadline to render the Communist Party of the Philippine ‘irrelevant’ and to turn over internal security matters to the Philippine National Police so it can shift its focus on external security. The so-called shift is timed with the US’s so-called Asian pivot,” added Palabay.  

Karapatan maintains Oplan Bayanihan’s deadline and the presence of more US troops and military aid in the country will bring about more human rights violations and perpetuate impunity. 

“The ‘negotiations’ between the Aquino government and the US government, the so-called rotational deployment, the drones for humanitarian purposes are  blatant assault to the nation’s sovereignty, violate the interest of the country and the Filipino people who already said NO TO US BASES. It is a clear manifestation of the Aquino government’s puppetry to the interests of the US government and its treachery against the Filipino people,” Palabay ended.