3 September 2007
Anti-War Coalition Demands Independent Investigation, Constant Monitoring: US AMBASSADOR’S LIES ABOUT US BASES IN MINDA MERIT PROBE
MANILA – A broad coalition of anti-war advocates in the Philippines today slammed US Ambassador Kristie Kenney for lying about the US military bases in the country, saying US troops themselves, as well as supporting documents and easily verifiable facts, contradict her statement.
Stop the War Coalition, a broad and independent coalition of social movements, NGOs, human rights groups, women’s, religious, students’, youth, and other organizations, pointed out that it was the US Department of Defense itself that officially announced the $14.4 million contract awarded to a US military construction group for a unit that has been indefinitely stationed in the south – the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOFT-P).
The US embassy itself has admitted that the US is building what it claims to be “temporary” military structures. The Visiting Forces Commission has also confirmed that the US maintains “living quarters” as well as stock supplies in the south. US troops
themselves, in publicly available documents, refer to their structures in Mindanao
as “advance operating base” or “forward operating base.”
“All these prove that Kenney is lying through her teeth,” the coalition said in a statement released to the media.
The coalition also challenged the US’ description of the bases as “temporary” by noting that the unit which uses them, the JSOTF-P, has not been given an exit-date by the Philippine government and are therefore staying in the country indefinitely.
This, the coalition pointed out, is a patent violation of the Philippine constitution which states that “Foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty …”. The Visiting Forces Agreement, which exempt US
troops from Philippine laws, cannot be construed as the treaty which allows for this exemption, the coalition maintained.
The coalition agrees with Representative Crispin Beltran’s demand for an independent inspection of the facilities but also called the establishment of an independent body that will officially and continually monitor US actions in the country.
While applauding Senator Aquilino Pimentel’s call for the government to verify the existence of bases, they expressed doubt as to whether the government would have the incentive to do so since it has been the government that has permitted the US to build the bases
in the first place. The coalition instead urged Pimentel to call for a Senate investigation into the issue.
REFERENCE: Cora Fabros, +63 917 8871153, firstname.lastname@example.org
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Sept. 17th 2007