US Drones, Troops Out of Asia and Africa!–BAYAN-USA

For Immediate Release
January 11, 2013
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA,

US Drones, Troops Out of Asia and Africa!–BAYAN-USA

“Only Uncle Toms would welcome in Uncle Sam,” commented BAYAN-USA Chairperson Bernadette Ellorin on the news that the US would end 2012 and kick-off 2013 by sending troops to 35 African countries and two warships to the Philippines, and that a US drone was fished out of Philippine waters less than a week into the new year. “History has shown that US military presence in countries around the world benefits only US imperial interests and the wealthiest 1% in the host countries. The vast majority of people get hit with land theft, human rights violations, toxic dumping, and sexual assault—topped off by losing their country’s sovereignty.”

“The Filipino people learned this through more than 100 years of direct experience with the US military. Unfortunately, President Aquino is continuing the pattern of subservience to Uncle Sam by opening the door even wider to both US economic and military interests. The fact that the docking of the US warships was labeled a ‘routine’ port call shows just how normal the Aquino administration considers the presence of US military in our sovereign nation,” said Ellorin.

The US reported that it would start conducting military exercises and training with several African nations to modernize and strengthen those countries’ militaries and beef up anti-terrorism efforts in the region. Such claims are similar to the pretext given for the basing of 600+ US troops in Mindanao, increased placement of US military advisors in the country, annual “Shoulder-to-shoulder” or “Balikatan” exercises between American and Filipino troops, and provision of military supplies and ships to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “If the Philippine experience is any indicator, this effort in Africa will not only fail to bring peace or stability to the region the way the US claims; it will do the exact opposite—bring increased antagonism and conflict.”

Ellorin continued: “After 13 years of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippine military has only improved its ability to torture, abduct, and murder innocent civilians. And the Philippines has practically handed over its sovereignty on a silver platter. These are the same results African nations can expect.”

Just days after the US warships docked in Cebu and Manila Bay, a US drone was found in Philippine waters off Masbate. “The US drone even went unchallenged by anyone in PNoy’s administration.  Knowing that US drones are being used to assassinate people throughout the world, why should we believe the US Embassy’s claims that this drone was unarmed and only being used for US troops’ target practice?” questioned Ellorin.

“The main reasons presidents like Arroyo and Aquino have welcomed in the US military have been to curry favor with the military’s top brass, attempt to legitimize their rule, and line the pockets of their own families and hand-picked friends. There have been no benefits whatsoever for the majority of Filipino people, who are still languishing in poverty,” ended Ellorin.