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AKBAYAN denounces US intervention in Philippine elections

by AKBAYAN Party-list Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2007 at 5:14 PM

AKBAYAN Party-list condemned today the reported participation of US soldiers Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) initiated campaigns against leftist party-list organizations. The group said that it received reports from the local media in Zamboanga City that US soldiers are also campaigning against party-list groups that the AFP considers as “communist fronts.”

AKBAYAN said that a TV report from the Golden Broadcast TV 11, a local channel in Zamboanga City, where still unnamed US soldiers took part in an anti-communist forum organized by the AFP Southern Command. According to the report, the AFP explained that the involvement of the American soldiers was part of the ‘Oplan Bantay Laya.’

The forum, the 9th in Zamboanga City, was held last Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology.

During the forum, the AFP was supposed to discuss the communist insurgency, while the US soldiers were there supposedly to tackle its anti-terrorism drive.

However, during the forum, the soldiers allegedly warned the audience against voting for party-list groups that are linked with “communist and terrorist organizations.” While they did not name the party-list groups during the forum, the statement was clearly against leftist anti-GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) groups that have been the subject of harassment from the military.

Furthermore, AKBAYAN Zamboanga Chairperson Neil Dalena said that since December last year, the AFP has been campaigning against AKBAYAN since “it is one of the communist fronts.”

AKBAYAN Rep. Etta Rosales denounced the unlawful intervention of the AFP and the US soldiers in the 2007 polls. “The forthcoming election is an expression of Philippine sovereignty and an act of civilian supremacy. The AFP and the US military have no right meddling in an affair that should be conducted without coercion and fear,” Rep. Rosales said.

AKBAYAN leader and UP Prof. Walden Bello said that the intrusion of US soldiers in Philippine elections is a brazen act of imperialism. “They can’t dictate on Filipino voters whom to support this May. Their action betrays the truth behind their so-called anti-terror campaign - to demonize and persecute anti-GMA and anti-Bush party-list groups,” Bello said.

Meanwhile, UP Human Rights Institute Director Ibarra Gutierrez III said that the action of the American soldiers is a violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. “Under Article II of the Visiting Forces Agreement, US personnel are required to respect Philippine laws. They are also banned from participating in any political activity in the Philippines,” Gutierrez pointed out.

Gutierrez prodded the Philippine government to promptly order the American personnel to stop their illegal campaign activities. He said that refusal from the Philippine government to do so means that it is also violating laws that ban foreigners from participating in election activities. “Should they continue to allow the US soldiers to The Office of the President, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of National Defense are liable for allowing the participation of US soldiers in an unlawful activity,” he said.

AKBAYAN said that it will file charges before the VFA Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.

AKBAYAN Rep. Etta Rosales likewise said that the US Senate panel that is holding an inquiry on extrajudicial killings would be informed about this incident. “The US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs should also investigate the conduct of US troops in the Philippines. These supposedly ‘anti-terrorist’ efforts of US personnel that end up as anti-Left activities clearly create an environment conducive to extrajudicial killings,” the solon said.

She added that the intervention of the military and the American personnel in Philippine elections violates several laws and constitutional provisions. Rep. Rosales cited Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which protects the sovereign will of the Filipino people. “Section 1 of the said Article states that sovereignty resides on the people, and that all government authority resides from it. Section 3, on the other hand, clearly states that civilian authority is at all times supreme over the military,” Rep. Rosales said.

Section 25 of Art. XVII, meanwhile, states that the US military is barred from entering Philippine territory except under a treaty. “But even under the erroneous and unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement, the US soldiers are barred from partisan activities,” Rep. Rosales said.

She pointed out that both the US personnel and the AFP have violated Article 22, Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code. “Our election laws prohibit military intervention in partisan activities. Their campaign against leftist party-list groups violates this provision,” Rep. Rosales said.

March 17, 2007

http://www.akbayan.org/press_release.htm

_________________________________

Military is sowing intrigue among militant party-lists

The Partido ng Manggagawa (Party of Workers) on Saturday slammed the military for claiming that captured New People’s Army (NPA) documents assert that the labor party-list group together with Sanlakas and Akbayan are "fronts for Malacanang."

In a statement e-mailed to media outfits, Rep. Renato Magtubo of Partido ng Manggagawa said he believes the military report was "meant to sow bloody intrigue between militant party-list groups."

"It should be funny because it is so ridiculous but it is really worrisome because of its malicious objective. Imagine how happy Esperon and Bert Gonzales will be if Partido ng Manggagawa, Sanlakas, and Akbayan quarrel with the NPA over this intrigue. The military leadership wants to sabotage the unity among militant party-list groups that is shaping up to defend civil liberties and the party-list system," he said.

Calling the military statement “a psy-war scheme by the fascists in the Arroyo regime,” Magtubo said it is a reaction to the public uproar over the deployment of soldiers in urban communities and the harassment of Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo.

He also called it a key part of the government plot to defeat militant party-lists and is further proof of electioneering by the military leadership.

Magtubo also reiterated his call for the disqualification of fake party-list groups including those supported by Malacanang, naming them thus: Ahonbayan of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Bigkis Pinoy of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s Efraim Genuino and Sulong Barangay of James Marty Lim.

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