Press Release
February 23, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today commended American troops for helping rescue hundreds of victims trapped in the landslides in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte but cautioned them against taking part in military operations against Muslim terrorists and insurgents in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Klub, Club Filipino at Greenhills, San Juan, Pimentel said he has always held the view that if the Americans want to maintain a presence in the country, it should be for peaceful purposes, not for warlike intentions.

That is why I like the sight of GI Joes digging into the mud that covered the whole village of Guinsaugon to save, rather than destroy life. As the lone senator from Mindanao, that is what I would like to see done by the Americans in Moroland; wage peace, not war, he said.

Some 3,000 American soldiers were diverted from the joint RP-US Balikatan military exercises in the South to help in the rescue and relief operations in Southern Leyte.

He said any participation of American troops in combat operations will be tantamount to foreign intervention in the internal problems of a sovereign country.

Put it in the concrete, I do not want them to start or cause any hostilities against our brethren in Moroland. Otherwise, the peace negotiations the government is now having with the Moro rebels would be jeopardized, he said.

Pimentel recalled that it was the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, a natural disaster, that caused the American troops to abandon Clark Air Base in Pampanga, to the chagrin of a handful of people who benefited from their presence.

Today, he said it is another natural disaster, the landslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte that brought the American soldiers to St. Bernard town to the cheer of the whole nation.

Now, they are seen not as precursors of strife but as bearers of hope for the entrapped villagers and their grieving families, Pimentel said.

While praising the American troops for extending much-needed help to the landslide victims, Pimentel said he was not about to justify the Visiting Forces Agreement between Manila and Washington, which he opposed by voting against its ratification in 1999.

However, he said that realistically speaking the US today is the only superpower in the world, and there is not much the Philippines could do to prevent the US from interfering in the affairs of the country.

If countries as powerful as Germany, Japan, indeed even the United Kingdom could not prevent the basing of US strike forces in their areas of responsibility or bar the US from dragging them into their recent wars for example in Afghanistan and Iraq, we should realize that it is to our best interest as a nation to work for the channeling of the resources of his mighty nation to peaceful, rather than warlike purposes, Pimentel said.

News Latest News Feed