Press Release
September 22, 2009

Remove US Balikatan Troops From Combat Prone Areas

Senator Rodolfo G Biazon today said the US troops participating in the continuing series of RP-US Balikatan exercises must be removed from the conflict or combat prone areas of Jolo, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Central Mindanao.

In filing P. S. Resolution No. 1370 the Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security said the incident of the US troops firing their weapons which caused damage to some establishments in Jolo clearly manifest the possibility of Filipinos being injured or worst being killed by US soldiers.

"THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE," Senator Biazon asserted.

"The US troops who fired their weapons may have reacted in self-defense. However, the possibility of this incident can be prevented by not exposing the Americans to situations where their security can be threatened and where they may have to react in self-defense unilaterally."

Biazon recommended, "The only solution is for the joint RP-US Balikatan exercises be conducted in safe training areas such as in Fort Magsaysay; Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal; Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite or at the 1st Division Philippine Army Training Area in Malagatay, Zamboanga City. "

"This will eliminate a situation similar to that of Jolo in the evening of 14 September 2009 where a bomb exploded within the vicinity of Jolo Wharf while the US troops were unloading supplies prompting them to use their firearms."

"If there are civic-military projects such as road building, school building and medical missions that the Americans may want to undertake anywhere in the country, security should be provided positively by Philippine soldiers or police, " Biazon also proposed.

"In the past, whenever there were joint exercises between the RP and the US troops, PARTICIPANTS IN THESE TRAINING EXERCISES WERE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO CARRY LIVE AMMUNITION INCLUDING FILIPINO TROOPS. If there were any concerns for security, specific units from the then PC-INP or military police were on alert."

Biazon assessed that if this practice is revived, the possibility of Americans having to provide for their own safety will be removed.

"The involvement by some sectors proposing for the abrogation of the VFA will be strengthened by incidents similar to the incident in Jolo occurring again, " Biazon concluded.

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