KASAMA Vol. 16 No. 2 / April-May-June 2002 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

DAVAO CITY - 7 February 2002

We, Lumad, Moro, and Christian members of civil society groups in Mindanao urgently demand the termination of the RP-US Balikatan 02-1 war exercises based on the following reasons:

As a tri-people group, we have consulted Bangsamoro and Lumad groups, who fear that the Balikatan exercises pose a real threat to the ongoing peace efforts in Mindanao.

Our Bangsamoro partners fear that Balikatan can result in more US military involvement because they are staged in actual conflict areas under real combat conditions. The RP-US troops now joining the Balikatan are risking a full-blown war with Bangsamoro armed groups like the MNLF and the MILF in Basilan or the New Peoples Army in Luzon.

The Bangsamoro representatives also fear that the Balikatan will revive the anti-US sentiments of the Moro people which has historical roots during the Moro-American War in the early 1900s, where American troops massacred thousands of Moros, particularly during the Bud Dahu incident in Jolo.

Now therefore we strongly demand that the Philippines should assert its sovereignty as an independent nation and not rely on any foreign assistance in the training of its military forces.

As representatives of civil society groups in Mindanao, we support a concerted campaign against terrorist and kidnap groups in the country, but believe that these concerns can be resolved through local initiatives without any foreign interventions.

We also believe that the military solution alone will not solve the problem of the Abu Sayyaf Group. By eradicating poverty and neglect in the Bangsamoro areas where the ASG operates, we will be effectively preventing the birth of more future ASG clones.

SIGNED: Sanlakas-Davao City, Akbayan-Bisig, AFRIM, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Balay, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Initiatives for International Dialogue.

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