Students to Balikatan Exercises in Lanao: We love Mindanao, US Troops Out Now!

The five-day “Five o’clock habit” which started February 11 is a protest action every 5pm by the students under the League of Filipino Students (LFS), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) in MSU-IIT versus the upcoming RP-US Joint Military Exercises in the provinces of Lanao come February 18 to March 3 this year.

Yesterday, they were joined by members of MSU-IIT Muslim Students Association (MIMSA) and the Historical Society in lighting protest candles at the pathways of the entrance gate. Historical Society was the sponsor of the popular February 13 Forum where an Army Major spying on and harassing the activity was booed by the students.

“We don’t need US troops in the Philippines.  We are disappointed with the government who keeps the war posturing while playing deaf to the students clamouring for an increased education budget,” said Alyssa Joy Aldojesa, Chair of LFS-MSU-IIT.  Last year, the government added PhP 1 Billion to the military budget to ‘boost the fighting and intelligence capacity’ of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, at the expense of social services, including education.

Chanting “may pera sa gyera, wala sa eskwela”, LFS emphasized that the war bravado of Mrs. Arroyo, including the frequent Balikatan Exercises, is too far the answer for a commercialized, colonial and repressive education.

In MSU main Campus of the Islamic City of Marawi, the LKM chapter here will join the students’ rally at the campus Peace Plaza 1pm today.  LKM-MSU-Main Chair Aida Ibrahim said the activity will expose to the public the double-faced character of Balikatan exercises, and the real motives of the US government and troops in coming to Lanao.

The student groups are expected to join the Mindanao People’s Caravan and March for Sovereignty, Justice and Peace to Cagayan de Oro City tomorrow. (US Troops Out Now-Lanao Coalition)

16 February 2008
For reference: Kristian Mark Urbano, Public Information Officer