The Citizens' Peace Watch, a group formed to monitor what it fears as the growing and permanent US military presence in the South, reiterated its recommendations from a fact-finding mission it conducted in Zamboanga City and Sulu last February. Members of the mission claim to have seen with their own eyes — and to have pictures of — the US' military structures inside Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
"The information coming out today about the US military presence in the south confirm what we have been saying all along for many months now," says Corazon Fabros, one of the group's spokespersons. "It is high time to look into them because the government's excuse is becoming more and more ludicrous while the situation is getting more and more dangerous."
The group stressed the following findings from its fact-finding mission (which can be downloaded from:
= that the US is involved in actual combat operations in the country
= that the US is conducting operations outside the control of the Philippine government and military
= US basing and intervention in the country is contributing to insecurity and leading to an escalation in conflict
"In light of the constitutional violations and actual danger to lives and human rights, the Citizens' Peace Watch challenges our elected representatives to take the initiative to demand and conduct Congressional and Senate inquiries into the issue and demands the suspension of US military deployment to the Philippines, specifically the stationing of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines as well as the military exercises, pending fair and independent review of and investigations on their presence and intervention," the coalition said.
MEMBERS OF THE CITIZENS' PEACE WATCH:
Akbayan! Party-list - http://www.akbayan.org/
Alyansa ng Kabataan sa Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan - http://www.freewebs.com/akmkforum/
Anak Mindanao Party List - http://www.anakmindanao.com/
Balay Rehabilitation Center - http://18.104.22.168/usr/irct/home.nsf/unid/JREW-5MSCUJ
Bangsamoro Women's Foundation
Citizen's Coalition for Human Rights
Focus on the Global South - http://www.focusweb.org
KaisaKa - http://www.genuinesecurity.org/partners/kaisaka.htm
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya - http://kilusan-para-sa-pambansang-demokrasya.blogspot.com/
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Mindanao Peoples Caucus - http://mindanaopeoplescaucus.org/
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement - http://www.mppm.info/
Mindanao Tri-People Women Forum
Moro Human Rights Center - http://kalilintad.tripod.com/moro_human_rights_center.htm
Muslim Women's Organization
Peace Women Partners
Peacebuilders Community - http://www.peacebuilderscommunity.org/
Resource Center for People's Development
STOP the War Coalition Philippines
Sumpay Mindanao - http://www.sumpaymindanao.org/
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines - http://www.tfdp.net/
Tulong Lupah Sug, Inc
US Troops Out of Mindanao; Genuine Self-Determination for Moros Now
By STOP THE WAR! COALITION- PHILIPPINES
The United States' involvement in the war in Mindanao can no longer be denied. Several times in the last month, at the height of Philippine military offensives against Moro fighters, US soldiers were repeatedly seen with Filipino troops, helping recover bombs, evacuating casualties, or joining Filipino troops in Philippine military camps throughout Mindanao. The Philippine military itself categorically confirmed that the US military has been providing it with "technical assistance" in pursuit of Moro rebels.
All these continue a pattern of reports that have accumulated in the last few years: Just in February, a Filipino general confirmed that it was the crew of a US spy plane that provided the intelligence which resulted in an operation in which eight civilians, including a pregnant woman and two children, were killed in Maimbung, Sulu.
The latest revelations that the US has been expanding its military structures in Zamboanga City not only confirm what we have been warning against; they heighten our concern that the US intends to stay in the Philippines for the long-haul.
In joining Filipino troops in their operations, providing them information, locating bombs, rescuing casualties, or giving technical assistance, the US military is clearly involved in actual combat in the Philippines. In stationing troops and equipment in various military facilities in the south, the US has established permanent basing in the country.
Not only is this patently unconstitutional, it also further contributes to escalating and exacerbating the violence and insecurity in Mindanao, drawing parties towards all-out war, away from a just and peaceful resolution.
We therefore demand that US troops immediately withdraw from all of Mindanao and that no US troops be involved in any operations.
We likewise demand that the Philippine military desists from further military offensives, that it immediately pulls out its troops from the region, and that it returns to the negotiating table.
We oppose the arming of civilians by the Philippine government and demand the immediate disbandment of militias and private armies.
We denounce the targeting and killing of innocent civilians by any side and we demand justice and reparations for all those who have been killed, displaced, and affected by the war.
To address the root causes of the war, we support an agreement that would genuinely advance the Moro's and the indigenous people's right to self-determination - as they themselves define it, free from others' imposition and intervention. This entails recognizing and respecting the Bangsamoro people's right to self-rule.
In any agreement, the indigenous peoples' rights must at all times be assured and protected through specific provisions and measures. While we call for the indigenous people's rights not to be subsumed under those of the Bangsamoro, we oppose efforts to set one oppressed people against another and we refuse to allow one oppressed peoples' rights to be used to deprive another people of theirs.
Narrow vested interests of local and foreign powers should not be allowed to stand in the way of guaranteeing the universal right to self-determination. For it is only by advancing the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro and the indigenous peoples that lasting peace and justice can be achieved.#
15 September 2008