Wednesday, 18 April 2012 17:00
Cotabato City - On the first day of Lakbayan Laban sa Balikatan, almost a thousand delegates arrived in Cotabato City for a cultural protest against the 2012 RP-US Balikatan Exercises.
Contingents led by Patriotiko Mindanao and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) from Southern Mindanao Region, North Cotabato, Sockskargends, and Cotabato City gathered inside Cotabato City State Polytechnic College on the first day of the protest caravan.
Various youth and cultural organizations held a number of song and dance numbers mirroring the patriotic stance of Mindanaoans against US intervention.
“We see the people’s defiance against cultural RP-US Balikatan. It is not a mere military exercise, it is a display of US interest to maintain a strong foothold in the Philippines,” said Sheena Duazo, BAYAN – Southern Mindanao spokesperson.
Balikatan Exercises is annually hosted by the Philippines based on the Mutual Defense Treaty signed between US and the Philippines in 1951. This month, more than 6,000 US troops will arrive in the country to participate in the military exercise.
Meanwhile, Lakbayan contingents reported to have received information that the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City are calling for the people to gather for a pro-US protest in time for the arrival of the Lakbayan participants in Zamboanga.
“Soldiers from Western Mindanao Command are organizing a pro-US rally Zamboanga City,” said Patriotiko Mindanao Bai Ali Indayla. “But we shall overcome this because we know that we are fighting for freedom and our national sovereignty,” she said.
The Lakbayan contingents is set to hold a protest action in 6th Infantry Division Camp Siongco, Awang, Maguindanao before proceeding to Pagadian for the second day of the caravan.
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