Protest rallies and caravans to greet Balikatan on Feb. 18

Patriotic organizations led by US troops Out Now! Mindanao and Bayan will hold simultaneous caravans on February 17 and rallies on February 18.  Contingents from Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon and Butuan will proceed to Cagayan de Oro.  Davao City, General Santos City, Cotabato City, and Pikit will hold rallies on February 18.

Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Women Party Representative Liza Maza, leading proponents in Congress for the rejection of Balikatan and the Visiting Forces Agreement, will join the caravan in Cagayan de Oro. Mindanaoan and Gabriela Women Party Rep. Luz Ilagan is also set to deliver her privilege speech in the House of Representatives against US military intervention.

Out Now! Mindanao said the protests will gather thousands of people to register the broad opposition of Mindanao peoples — the Moro, Lumad and Christians — against the entry of American troops for military exercises now being disguised as humanitarian missions. The Balikatan exercises are set to begin in Lanao provinces, Bukidnon, Sulu and North Cotabato.

Out Now! Mindanao rebuffed the recent pronouncement of US ambassador Kristie Kenney that these exercises will be about humanitarian missions, saying that this is a ploy for social acceptance for people to welcome and become familiar with the presence of US soldiers in Mindanao.

The group also pointed out that US troops involvement in a military operation in Maimbung, Sulu that killed eight Moro people including two children and a pregnant woman, betrays the words of Kenney.  US troops are killing machines, not protectors of the people, the group says.

The group calls for the rejection of Balikatan as it is unconstitutional and morally unjustified.  They point out to the various incidents of abuses and violations of human rights perpetrated by the troops as had happened in past exercises in Basilan, Sulu and North Cotabato.  These include the rape of Zamboanga City resident 'Nicole', the wounding of residents from Sulu and Basilan during war exercises, and the death of an elderly woman in Maranapan, North Cotabato.

Schedule of Activities

February 17
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Peoples' Caravan
Marawi & Iligan to Cagayan de Oro
Valencia & Malaybalay, Bukdinon to Cagayan de Oro
Butuan to Gingoog to Cagayan de Oro
11:00 am
Press Conference with Rep. Satur Ocampo and Rep. Liza Maza
Cagayan de Oro
5:00 pm
Concert at the Park
Cagayan de Oro

February 18
8:00 am- 12:00 noon
Peoples' March
    * Cagayan de Oro
    * Davao City (starts 1:00pm)
    * General Santos City
    * Sulu
    * Pikit, North Cotabato
    * Cotabato City

INPEACE Mindanao
Mindanao Peoples' March and Caravan
for Sovereignty, Justice and Peace
February 17 & 18, 2008
References :    
Bishop Felixberto Calang (Convenor, Northern Mindanao)
Atty. Beverly Selim-Musni (Convenor, Cagayan de Oro)
Pastor Jurie Jayme, UCCP (Convenor, Southern Mindanao)