Archive | August, 2012

Mar’s DILG appointment, “a major election move” – Bayan

Posted on 31 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 31, 2012

The DILG is now ‘Mar-red’  by narrow political interests

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said today that the appointment of Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary and Liberal Party president Mar Roxas as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government “has more to do with the upcoming 2013 elections than anything else.”

“It seems the Liberal Party has gotten the upper hand on this one. It wants control of a department that has strategic value for the upcoming 2013 elections and eventually the 2016 elections. The partisan political motivation of Roxas’ appointment is too obvious to ignore. It also says a lot about the appointing power, President Benigno Aquino III,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The perception is that his appointment is intended to give the Liberal Party an undue advantage in the upcoming polls. At the very least, Roxas should take a leave from the Liberal Party at least up until after the 2013 elections, though it is highly unlikely he will,” he added.

Prior to the elections, it was reported that the two main factions within the Aquino government were vying for the post of DILG secretary. It was also reported that the Liberal Party had met with Aquino and asked that the secretary who will be appointed after the deceased Jesse Robredo would come from the party. The DILG chief would have influence over the police and local government units, which could be a crucial advantage in swinging the votes for 2013.

“The appointment of Roxas is the ultimate ‘trapo’ maneuver courtesy of Mr. Aquino. How sad and ironic that after the President praised Robredo for being anti-trapo, now comes this appointment which has all the trademarks of traditional politics,” Reyes added.

Reportedly replacing Roxas at the DOTC is Liberal Party secretary general and House Appropriations Committee Chair Emilio Abaya.

“The so-called daang matuwid has been trumped anew by narrow, partisan politics. It’s the LP show now,” Reyes added.

Challenges to Roxas

At the time of his death, Secretary Jesse Robredo was confronted with the daunting task of looking for relocation sites for some 100,000 settlers that were supposed to be displaced by the Aquino government because they were living near waterways. Robredo, based on his public statements, was in favor of in-city relocation sites. Robredo said his interagency task force has found a possible relocation site in Pasay where permanent structures could be set up to house the dislocated residents. Robredo has also met with progressive partylist groups and urban poor groups in the past on the issue of violent demolitions and the absence of viable relocation sites.

“Roxas faces issues related to the forced eviction of urban poor communities and the relocation of these communities. Will Roxas implement a policy of all-out war against the urban poor or will he sit down to look for viable solutions to the long-standing problem of housing which has given rise to violent demolitions?” Reyes said. ###

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Groups march to mark International Day of the Disappeared

Posted on 29 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 30, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan joined human rights group Karapatan today in Plaza Miranda to mark International Day of the Disappeared. The groups assailed the Aquino regime for its failure to go after the perpetrators of enforced disappearances.

“Today we march to demand justice for Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno, Luisa Dominado and the many victims of enforced disappearances who remain missing to this day. Enforced disappearance is such a heinous crime which tortures the families of the victims who continue to search for their loved ones,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Injustice prevails with the failure of the government to hold accountable the perpetrators of this heinous crime. The fugitive general Jovito Palparan, who is believed to be responsible for the abduction and torture UP students Cadapan and Empeno, remains at large and has mocked the entire justice system,” Reyes added.

The International Day of the Disappeared traces its origins from the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared. Protest actions in the Philippines started in 2007 at the height of the abductions of activists under the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In 2011, the Philippine Senate passed its version of a bill criminalizing enforced disappearances. In March 2012, the Philippine Lower House passed its version of a similar bill criminalizing enforced disappearances. The two versions are supposed to be reconciled in a bicameral meeting of both Houses of Congress before being signed by the President.

The practice of enforced disappearances was also prevalent during the Marcos dictatorship when the country was under Martial Law. Incidentally, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. The families of the victims of enforced disappearances during the Marcos dictatorship continue to press for justice and indemnification from the Philippine State, four decades after Martial Law was declared.

“Human rights is not really a priority of this regime, hardly meriting any mention even during the State of the Nation Addresses. The Aquino government’s failure to arrest Palparan is a continuing reminder of the injustice the victims continue to experience. Palparan is believed to be still influential in the partylsit group BANTAY which he is the head and where his wife is the first nominee. This group is seeking a post under the partylist system in the upcoming 2013 elections,” Reyes said .

In May 2012, rights group Karapatan noted that there were already 9 victims of enforced disappearances under the Aquino regime. The group blames the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan for the continuing rights abuses, which include extrajudicial killings and torture. The Philippine human rights record was subjected to scrutiny by the United Nations during the recent Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva, Switzerland last May. May countries expressed dismay that the Philippines has not lived up to its pledge of eliminating enforced disappearances and bringing to justice those responsible.  ###

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New DILG chief should shun politicking and address urban poor issues

Posted on 29 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 29, 2012

Instead of partisan politics, the new Department of Interior and Local Government should focus on urban poor issues including the forced eviction of residents arising from the long standing housing problem. This was raised today by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) as the known factions inside the Aquino administration seem to be at odds over who gets the coveted DILG portfolio now that the 2013 elections are approaching.

The DILG post is viewed as strategic for any political party competing in the 2013 national elections, because the DILG has a direct line to local officials nationwide. The so-called Balay faction is eyeing the post which is now occupied temporarily by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who is identified with the Samar faction within the Aquino government.

Meanwhile, at the time of his death, Secretary Jesse Robredo was confronted with the daunting task of looking for relocation sites for some 100,000 settlers that were supposed to be displaced by the Aquino government because they were living near waterways. Robredo, based on his public statements, was in favor of in-city relocation sites. Robredo said his interagency task force has found a possible relocation site in Pasay where permanent structures could be set up to house the dislocated residents. Robredo has also met with progressive partylist groups and urban poor groups in the past on the issue of violent demolitions and the absence of viable relocation sites.

“The political bickering over who gets the DILG post is sickening and is a great disservice to the people. It would be better if the next DILG secretary will not be too mired in partisan politics especially with the 2013 elections approaching. The next DILG secretary will have to face the issues of the urban poor especially now that the Aquino government is pushing for the demolition of more than 100,000 families living near waterways,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Issues not politicking

“The next DILG secretary must not pursue a policy of violent and forced evictions of informal settlers. At the very least, it should help in the efforts to find suitable in-city relocation or on-site development for settlers, at no huge cost for the residents,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that it would be problematic if President Benigno Aquino III makes partisan political interest the sole criterion in selecting the next DILG chief.  “Appointing someone for the sole purpose of electoral politics would be the ultimate Trapo move. Ironic, considering Aquino has proclaimed Robredo as the opposite of Trapo. Such an appointment will simply show that the Chief Executive is more concerned with addressing electoral problems rather than the people’s housing problems,” Reyes said.

Bayan will be joining various urban poor groups in a march protest from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola on August 30 to denounce plans for the forced eviction of urban poor settlers without any viable relocation and source of livelihood. The rally will also serve as a challenge to the next DILG chief, whoever he or she may be, to address the long-standing urban poor issues. ###

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Bayan questions increasing CCT dole-out funds

Posted on 29 August 2012 by admin

News release
August 29, 2012

Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today questioned the increasing allocation for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, saying that it has not made a dent on poverty despite astronomical increases in its budget under the Aquino administration.

The group issued the statement as members of the alliance held a picket in front of the House of Representatives (HOR) which was deliberating on the proposed ₱44.26-billion budget for the CCT program in 2013. The said proposal is more than ₱5 billion higher than the program’s allocation last year.

Bayan noted that between 2009 and 2012, the national budget for CCT swelled from just ₱5 billion to ₱39.4 billion. Meanwhile, the number of beneficiaries also ballooned from 594,356 households to more than 3 million during the same period. Next year, an additional 800,000 households will be included in the program.

According to the group, various social indicators do not support claims on the positive impact of the CCT program on alleviating poverty in the country. It cited the regular poverty and hunger surveys being conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS). In 2010, poverty among Filipino families averaged 48%; it then went up to 49% in 2011; and in the first two quarters of 2012, is averaging 53 percent. The same trend can be observed in hunger incidence, which steadily worsened from 19% (2010) to 20% (2011) then to 21% (2012).

Despite repeated statements by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the agency in-charge of the program, that the CCT is not a stand-alone initiative and is being complemented by longer-term and sustainable poverty alleviation interventions, the truth is the CCT is the only program of government to supposedly fight poverty, said the group.

Bayan added that while the Aquino administration intends to instantly improve the coverage of public health and education in the country through the CCT, it does little to ensure the sustained and greater access of the poor to these services. While government is hyping the supposed increases in the budget allocation for basic social services in the past two years, as well as in its 2013 budget proposal, in reality the urgent social services needs of the people remain largely unaddressed and resources allotted remain significantly insufficient.

In addition, Aquino’s centerpiece program – the public private partnership (PPP) – which also covers health and education tends to further marginalize the poor from accessing such basic social services due to prohibitive costs, Bayan noted. The policy incoherence and deception of the CCT is also exposed in the administration’s attitude to urban poor settlements, where many of the CCT beneficiaries are found. The group noted that demolitions and forced evictions have been widespread under Aquino, encouraged by irresponsible pronouncements such as the reported Aquino order to blast urban poor shanties “if needed” to clear Metro Manila’s waterways. #

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Group warns of renewed wave of protests vs. oil price hikes

Posted on 28 August 2012 by admin

News release
August 28, 2012

Multisectoral group Coalition Against Oil Price Increases (CAOPI) today warned of a renewed wave of people’s protests in the coming weeks if pump prices continue to escalate.

CAOPI issued the statement following another round of oil price hikes today, the seventh straight in as many weeks since oil prices began climbing in July. Big oil firms Pilipinas Shell, Chevron Philippines and Total Philippines led the latest increases with a 75-centavo per liter hike for diesel and 60 centavos for kerosene. Meanwhile, the pump price of regular and premium gasoline was rolled back by 45 centavos.

Based on the group’s monitoring, the pump price of petroleum products has already increased by around ₱8 per liter since the series of oil price hikes set off in the second week of July. The string of price increases has already offset the impact of the 12-week long series of oil price rollbacks in the second quarter of the year. The net effect of the price adjustments since January has increased the pump price of diesel by around ₱2.64 per liter and gasoline, by more than ₱2.

CAOPI noted that speculation persists in the world market on a possible tight supply mainly due to continued tension in the Middle East. The group said that instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will not subside anytime soon and thus will continue to feed high domestic oil prices. Already, some jeepney groups have indicated that they will seek to hike the minimum fare from ₱8 to 10 due to rising pump price of diesel.

The anti-oil price hike group said that the impact of speculative activities in the global market is directly being felt by ordinary consumers due to the Oil Deregulation Law (ODL), which allows for automatic price adjustments to reflect global price movements. Aggravating this is the propensity of local oil firms to further bloat pump prices through domestic overpricing.

CAOPI reiterated its demand for the Independent Oil Price Review Committee (IOPRC) to release its findings on prices and excessive profits of oil players. It also called on Congress to act on pending bills that seek to review, amend or repeal the ODL. #

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Bayan calls for vigilance as questions on Sereno independence persist

Posted on 25 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 25, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today called on the public to exercise vigilance in relation to the newly appointed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. The group said that the Sereno’s ties to the Aquino administration cannot simply be ignored.

“While CJ Sereno has made history by being the first ever female chief justice and the CJ with possibly the second longest term, there are valid questions as to her independence from Malacanang. If former CJ Corona’s voting record was cited as proof of his partiality towards Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the same will be done to Sereno. Her voting record will serve as an indicator of her independence from the Palace,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Aside from being Aquino’s first appointee to the SC, Bayan’s reservation towards Sereno emanates from her “concurring and dissenting” opinions in the case involving Hacienda Luisita. Sereno joined majority of the SC in ordering the actual land distribution of Hacienda Luisita. However, in her dissent, Sereno favored a higher land valuation for the sugar estate. She said that the valuation should not be pegged from 20 years ago but rather from the fair market value at the “time of taking” of the land by the government, which she said was in 2006.

Bayan said that the while the issue of the actual land valuation will be initially decided by the Department of Agrarian Reform and a Regional Trial Court acting as a special

agrarian court, the matter can still go back to the SC.

The group said that Sereno’s opinion on the so-called just compensation for Luisita favored the family of the president who appointed her.

“The issue of land valuation can still be elevated to the Supreme Court, especially if the Cojuangco-Aquino’s do not get their way at the RTC. The difference now is that the sitting SC Chief Justice has a position more to the liking of the Luisita landlords,” Reyes said.

“It is therefore imperative that the public and the farmers remain vigilant,” he added.

Bayan noted however that Sereno took a correct position  when she opposed the Supreme Court maneuvers to allow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave the country via a hastily issued SC restraining order against a Department of Justice travel ban. However, the group said that this was not necessarily the true test of independence from Malacanang.

Aside from social justice issues like Luisita, the new Chief Justice will also be confronted with human rights issues, environmental issues, sovereignty issues and other constitutional questions. Among the more controversial issues that may find its way to the Supreme Court would be the moves to change the economic provisions of the Constitution, the redeployment of more US troops, warships and facilities in the Philippines, as well as the Aquino government’s new mining policy.
“It remains to be seen how she will lead the SC in tackling these issues if ever they are brought to the high court,” Reyes said.

“The expectations in relation to the new chief justice are very high considering that her appointment came in the aftermath of an impeachment process where public accountability was the main issue. It would be a tragedy therefore if Sereno’s appointment was only meant to serve narrow, vested interest. It would be an even bigger tragedy if the entire CJ impeachment was initiated with this result in mind,” Reyes said. ###

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On the appointment of Sereno as Chief Justice

Posted on 24 August 2012 by admin

August 24, 2012
Reference: Renato Reyes, Secretary General

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) calls on the public to exercise continued vigilance regarding the new Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice. While newly-appointed CJ Ma. Lourdes Sereno took a correct position against the Corona-led SC maneuvers to allow Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country, Sereno’s dissent in the Hacienda Luisita case favored the Luisita landowners with a far bigger compensation than what they ought to get.

It remains to be seen if the new CJ will exercise real independence from President Benigno Aquino III.

Public vigilance is also needed to thwart any effort by the Executive to control the Judiciary. Like ousted CJ Renato Corona, Sereno’s voting will be closely monitored as an indicator of independence from the Palace.

One wonders now if the entire Corona impeachment was designed to lead to this day and this result.#

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Mass movement undertakes extensive relief operations for flood victims

Posted on 24 August 2012 by admin

An initial report (August 5-21, 2012)

The mass movement undertook extensive relief efforts in the aftermath of heavy rains during the second week of August. The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) is issuing this initial report of the efforts of its different progressive mass organizations and allied groups. Relief operations are still continuing especially in areas that are still flooded.

In the aftermath of the heavy monsoon rains, Bayan called a meeting of its member organizations to gather reports on the damage and displacement wrought by the flooding.  Bayan’s member organizations and allied groups were already conducting their respective relief efforts and gathering the broadest possible support for the thousands of victims in Metro Manila and in provinces of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

The mass movement through the different relief campaigns called for donations (food, drinking water, clothes, medicine, etc) to be distributed to families in the affected areas.   The campaign was also able to mobilize hundreds of volunteers mainly from schools and civic organizations. Progressive Filipino organizations in Hong Kong, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States also immediately responded to calls for donations.

The organizations conducted relief operations in the most devastated areas such as those along creeks, rivers and coasts (Brgy. Bagong Silangan, QC, San Mateo, Rizal, Damayang Lagi, QC, Laguna coastal area) and other heavily flooded areas (Tanay, Angono, Rodriguez in Rizal and areas in Manila), reaching out to the most depressed communities and poorest families.

Efforts were mainly focused on distribution of relief goods, but there are also efforts to respond to medical needs and conduct clean-up drive in schools and communities.  One organization tapped the services of the UP Dragonboat Club and UP Mountaineers to immediately distribute food packs in submerged communities in Rizal.

Based on initial reports, in the first few days of the relief ops, progressive organizations and partylist groups were able to distribute food packs to 15,667 families, feed 26,447 individuals, and give medical services to1680 patients. We are still in the process of gathering data on the different relief efforts by progressive organizations.

Relief operations were done through Bayan’s  Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA), Kilusang Mayo Uno’s Task Force Obrero, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Sagip Kanayunan, Kabataan partylist’s Tulong Kabataan,  Migrante International’s Sagip Migrante,  Health Alliance for Democracy’s Samahang Operasyon Sagip, Promotion for Church People’s Response’s DAMBANA,  Anakpawis Partylist’s Tulong Anakpawis, BAYAN NCR and Akap Bata’s Serve the People Brigade, BAYAN Southern Tagalog’s Serve the People Corps, Kalikasan PNE’s Brigada Kalikasan, Gabriela’s Lingap Gabriela, Bayan Muna’s Operation Serve the People, among many others.

More activities are lined up for the next two weeks, including relief distribution in Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga and Pangasinan.

For photos , you may go to the following links:

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Facebook Account

Anakpawis Partylist Facebook Account

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Bayan vows to block MRT fare hike

Posted on 24 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 24, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that it would continue to oppose the planned MRT fare hike which Department of Transportation and Communication secretary Mar Roxas said will be implemented next year. Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said that the move is “patently anti-consumer”.

“The increase is unjust and will be a tremendous burden to ordinary commuters who depend on the MRT for fast and efficient transportation going to work and schools. There are also serious legal questions as to the procedures undertaken by the DOTC in approving the fare hike,” Reyes said.

“The main reason why subsidy for the MRT is huge right now is because of the onerous contracts which have resulted in massive debts for the train system. These were the result of the contracts between the national government and the private contractors, a kind of public-private partnership that failed. These debts are now being paid for by the national government and eventually the commuters, once the fare increases,” Reyes added.

In the case of the MRT, the original proponents were private local and Japanese corporations which formed the consortium Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC). These investors made a killing on the MRT because government guaranteed payments to the banks that financed the project including the Export-Import Bank of Japan, Sumitomo Bank, and other Japanese and Czech banks as well some local financial institutions like the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).

Furthermore, the deal was made more financially onerous because the owners of these banks that provided a loan of $462.5 million in 1998 and the private firms that constructed the MRT have the same investors. On top of the guaranteed debt payments, government also guaranteed that the MRTC will get 15 percent return on investment (ROI) per annum.

“The government is telling us that an efficient train system like the MRT should not be cheaper than other modes of transportation like buses. Government forgets that it is operating a service which is different from buses, taxis and jeeps which are private businesses. On the issue of fairness, government is employing a divide and rule tactic by repeating the fallacy that provincial taxpayers are the ones subsidizing the MRT when it is the national government that is subsidizing the MRT,” Reyes said.

“Let’s be clear on one thing: the fare hike will be used primarily to service MRT’s debts. The fare hike is being used to fill the gap as a result of the subsidy reduction.  As such, the fare hike will not lead to an improvement of services,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that most of those who will be affected by the fare hike are low-income earners and students. In the 2007 Mega Manila Public Transport Study conducted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), it was disclosed that 68.1 percent of LRT/MRT users during weekdays earn below P 10,000 per month and a significant 15.3 percent earn nothing at all. The same study also said that 48.8 percent of LRT/MRT commuters (weekdays) are ordinary employees and workers while 31.5 percent are students.

“Instead of raising fares, government must look into the onerous contracts and debts incurred by MRT. The government should also maximize other non-rail revenue measures for the train system because right now it is only 3% of total revenues. In 2010, MRT only earned P5 million from advertising and P7 million from other revenues. In 2011, it still had P1 billion in collectibles from a private developer,” Reyes said.

“By increasing the fare, government is passing on the debt burden directly to commuters, most of whom are low-income riders and students,” he added. ###

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Philippines being considered as part of US missile defense system in Asia — Bayan

Posted on 23 August 2012 by admin

News Release

August 24, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan raised alarm over plans for setting up of a United States missile defense system in Asia, saying that Philippine involvement would mean being dragged into armed conflicts and war posturing that have nothing to do with PH interests.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal “the U.S. is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia, a move American officials say is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China’s military.”

“The planned build-up is part of a defensive array that could cover large swaths of Asia, with a new radar in southern Japan and possibly another in Southeast Asia tied to missile-defense ships and land-based interceptors. It is part of the Obama administration’s new defense strategy to shift resources to an Asian-Pacific region critical to the U.S. economy after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the WSJ article said.

The plans call for the setting up of a land-based X-Band radar system in the Philippines. “Some U.S. defense officials have focused on the Philippines as the potential site for the third X-Band, which is manufactured by Raytheon Co. Pentagon officials said a location has yet to be determined and that discussions are at an early stage,” according to the WSJ.

Recently, the US said it was planning the installation of a land-based radar in the country to help in so-called “maritime surveillance” in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

“The US missile defense system is definitely not in accord with Philippine interests. The missile system is intended primarily to project US military power and contain and encircle countries like China and North Korea. The US wants to remain the top military power in the region even if they are not part of this region. The US wants us to believe that China and North Korea pose a military threat to countries like the Philippines. However, we don’t see any imminent missile threat from these countries. North Korea’s last rocket launch was even seen as a failure,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The US is basically exaggerating the threats from China and North Korea so that the US can justify its military build-up in the region. This is part of the US rebalancing of the US armed forces towards Asia whereby it hopes to deploy 60% of its warships and increasing number of troops in the region. This runs counter to the national interests of countries like the Philippines. Our involvement in any US missile system will only support the narrow imperialist interests of the US. The US wants to retain is military dominance in Asia in order to protect and advance US economic interests in the region,” Reyes added.

Bayan slammed what it called the “deceptive justification” used by the US in installing a land-based radar in the country. “In the beginning, they said that the radar system was to intended to help in maritime surveillance, but its turning out to be much worse. The radar will be part of the US’ Asia-wide missile system. This practically makes the Philippines a de facto host to US bases. That facility will be an extension of the US war machine in the region, on top of the regular US military exercises and the 600 US Special Forces stationed in the country,” Reyes said.

“There are serious Constitutional and sovereignty issues involved if the Philippine government will allow the setting up of a de facto US military facility in the country. With a radar in place, having land and sea-based missiles onboard US ships can’t be far behind,” Reyes warned. ###

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