Monday, February 18, 2008

Intimidation will not stop us from protesting against the Balikatan

The past two weeks, activities of Out Now Mindanao have been subject to military surveillance and intimidation in Marawi, Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, showing the military's desperate attempt to suppress the people's protest against the Balikatan exercises.

The latest of these incidents is last night's harassment and dispersal of our volunteers who were posting anti-Balikatan posters in OsmeƱa Street by two military agents.

The volunteers were slapped in the head, pushed away, and dispersed by gunfire by these agents who appeared drunk.Agents were also spotted spying in our forums in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Marawi with speaker Prof. Roland Simbulan, a noted anti-US bases activist from the Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

In the forum in Xavier University last February 7, an agent was spotted taking note of the participants and the program. A student saw this agent writing on his paper “wala man dinhi si Satur” (Rep. Ocampo is not here).

We are treating this as an indication of a threat on Rep. Ocampo, if not an insidious monitoring of his presence and activities. Another agent was seen in the forum taking pictures with his video phone in Valencia, Bukidnon on February 8.

When asked for his identification and invitation, this man quickly vanished.There was also the well publicized stunt by Major Benedicto Manquiquis who unashamedly disrupted a forum in Marawi State University by calling the forum a "communist activity" to brainwash and rouse the students to mount anti-government protests.

His unfounded and rude statement resulted to university officials and the students booing him away.With the growing protests of the people against the Balikatan execises and the Visiting Forces Agreement, the military has shown its desperation by resorting to these tactics.

Their moves have shown that they can not stand up to any debate on the merits and demerits of the VFA and Balikatan. They have clearly acted as mouthpieces for the US military.

These acts also betray the propaganda of the Philippine and US officials about the so-called good intentions of the humanitarian missions of Balikatan.

The military is using underhanded methods to repress our efforts to expose the real intent of the Balikatan exercises which is to establish a permanent basing of the US military in the Philippines to promote and protect US economic interest in Asia Pacific.

No act of desperation and repression from the military will deter the people’s patriotism. Our resistance will push on. We warn the US-Arroyo government against employing tricks to delay, disrupt, or suppress the Mindanao Peoples’ March and Caravan today and tomorrow. We shall fight for the national sovereignty until US intervention is ended in the Philippines.#(Press Release: ATTY. BEVERLY MUSNIConvenor, Out Now Mindanao)

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