Suspend the ongoing Balikatan 2016 – Fisherfolk group

Suspend the ongoing Balikatan 2016 – Fisherfolk group

American troops inspect the Filipino soldiers before the balikatan exercise begin.

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) on Thursday calls on the government to suspend the ongoing Balikatan exercises in Panay and Palawan.

The Balikatan exercise is an annual Philippine-US military bilateral training under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the recently passed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) where the US military can station their bases in our country and use our facilities at will.

Pamalakaya maintain that the water-based military drills often result to disruptions on livelihoods of fishers, as every time war games were held in the coastal areas, local governments impose fishing ban to give blanket security to the US troops.

Presence of US troops in our country is a threat not just to our national security but also to the lives and livelihoods of the fishers. Still fresh in our memory  was  an incident in 2014 when a US Naval Vessel rammed through two fishing boats in Subic Bay, injuring three Filipino fishermen, their boats  badly damaged, and the incident  brought lingering fear on them  and other fishers, and eventually affecting their return to fishing in the area,” Salvador France, Pamalakaya Vice Chairperson, said.   

“Out of the many balikatan exercises and continued stay of US in our country, we haven’t gained any benefits at all. Rather, human rights violations have been committed with impunity to our countrymen by these US soldiers roaming around the country,” France added.

We will not allow another Jennifer Laude neither a Nicole rape case to happen again. We call on the Filipino people to actively resist this US-dictated military treaty. We call for the total abrogation of the unequal VFA and the EDCA which is a clear violation of our constitution and sovereignty.” France ended. ###

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