“Alarmist” PH gov’t laying grounds for expanded Balikatan exercises, says group

Global alliance of overseas Filipino and families Migrante International said that the Philippine government’s “alarmist” and “over-reacting” stance on the North Korea rocket launch and the so-called “stand-off” with China on territorial claims to the Scarborough Shoal are “mere theatrics aimed at justifying the impending commencement of an increased and permanent US military presence” through the expanded Balikatan exercises this April.

Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez criticized the Aquino government for “creating the hype to justify what is most unwelcome and unpopular to the public.”

“While the Aquino government is quick to condemn and raise the alarm on so-called repercussions of North Korea’s rocket testing, for instance, it continues to remain silent and in effect tolerates US-NATO wars of aggression and increased US military deployment in the Asia Pacific. North Korea has no direct targets while the US-NATO poses serious threats and in fact had already endangered Filipino nationals and peoples in affected countries.”

He said that the Aquino government’s double standards are evident in its “quick reaction to perceived threats while dragging its feet on providing welfare and protection for overseas Filipinos, particularly to OFWs awaiting repatriation in conflict-ridden Syria.”

“There is an ongoing ceasefire now in Syria. Now is the best time to conduct evacuation and repatriation efforts for thousands of our OFWs there. Yet the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) seems to be wasting its time on imagined scenarios. Until now, repatriation of OFWs in Syria are in trickles and still agonizingly slow,” Martinez said.

“We seriously question the Aquino government’s foreign policy of all-out support to the US at the expense of national security and sovereignty. By sheer timing, it is very obvious that the Aquino government is laying the grounds to justify not only increased US military presence but US’ direct intervention on domestic affairs,” he said.

Migrante International will join other sectors led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in a nationwide “Caravan Kontra-Balikatan” on April 16 in Central Luzon and Mindanao to oppose increased US military presence in the country.###