Saddened by the recent death of a Fil-Am soldier in Iraq, the national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as BAYAN USA said the best way to prevent the untimely deaths of more Fil-Am soldiers like that of US Army Sargent Myla Maravillosa, whose body was flown back to her hometown of Inabanga, Philippines last week for burial, was to withdraw the US troops in Iraq all together. The alliance continues to actively call for the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq and in the Philippines.

Maravillosa was supposedly only the second Fil-Am soldier to perish in Iraq.

BAYAN USA chair Kawal Ulanday, a Fil-Am himself who grew up in a military family, noted that mainstream media rarely exposes the true death rate of American soldiers in Iraq and other US wars of aggression. “Myla is certainly not the first and will not be the last to die for this false notion of anti-terrorism. She, like all the men and women of our US armed forces, are victims of a US-led imperialist agenda that oppresses within its borders just as it aggressively wages oppression through war abroad.

Ulanday criticized the US military machinery for “preying on the hopes and dreams of low-income, people of color, working communities in the US. They target military recruitment from the poorest sectors in our nation’s cities and suburbs. They lure in the desperate youth with promises of a steady paycheck and education. And because the economy is so elitist and worsening for the majority of Americans, our young Fil-Am men and women take in the bait.”

“We honor and respect the lives of our young fallen brothers and sisters who died with the genuine intention to fight for democracy and freedom. Had their lives not ended under the flag of an unjust war and the leadership of a profiteering US government, they could have continued with these intentions and made major contributions for the good of their communities. But now we will never know who they could have become,” Ulanday ended.

BAYAN USA and its youth organizations League of Filipinos Students and Anakbayan committed to an increase in counter-recruitment education amongst our youth communities across the nation.

They also condemned the “shameless, all-out puppetry of the Arroyo regime to the dictates of the so-called US war on terror”, which is scheduled to deploy 5,000 more US troops to the Philippines under the auspices of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) by February.