US Iraq war veteran-turned-peace activist Ramon Mejia warned of the dangers of US drones in Mindanao, as well as increasing US military presence in the Philippines under the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Mejia was in the Philippines as part of a peace mission from the US looking into the impact of US military intervention in the country in line with the Obama administration’s “pivot to the Asia”.
“Drones are a despicable invention. I am very concerned to hear accounts of US drones operating in Mindanao secretly. As a former US Marine who has experienced firsthand the horrors of US war in Iraq, I can attest that drones were invented for one ultimate purpose– to kill,” Mejia stated.
Mejia, a Palestinian solidarity activist in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, also drew comparisons between the peace process between the Bangsamoro people and the Aquino government with the peace process between Palestine and Israel, brokered by the US government.
“Peace in both cases means pacification. The objective is to divide a people over the promise of limited concessions, allowing for easier subjugation,” Mejia stated.
The peace mission, sponsored by BAYAN USA, also spent time with Moro communities in Cotabato City and Maguindanao. Mejia joined fellow US-based peace activists Juyeon Rhee of the Korean organization Nodutdol and Bernadette Ellorin of BAYAN USA.
“We are concerned over the conditions of abject poverty and human rights abuses we saw the Moro people suffering from on their own ancestral domain. We fully support their right to self-determination, including the right to fight to economically uplift their lives.”
EDCA & Hegemony
“As a former US Marine, I can say that the only objective of US militarism is to pursue hegemony, that is what the Obama administration’s so-called Pivot to Asia is about,” Mejia continued. “The EDCA is not going to ensure protection for the Philippines nor will it modernize the Philippine military. Securing US military control over the Philippines is strategic to the drive for US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region, and it will come at a grave social cost for the Filipino people.”
Bringing Back Stories and Building Bridges
“As active peace activists in the U.S., we came to hear the stories of a people facing increasing US intervention and witness their struggles to fight for their basic rights. And we will take these stories back to better inform the US-based peace movement of what is happening on the ground in the Philippines,” stated Rhee.
“There are problems inside the US that need to be resolved—unemployment, homelessness, lack of access to education and affordable healthcare. We need our tax dollars to be directed towards solving these problems, not for US intervention in countries like the Philippines,” Rhee ended.
The peace mission is planning to build connections with the U.S. peace movement and people’s ongoing struggles in the countries affected by the U.S. intervention.