CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 30 July) — Three American activists had themselves tied to the gates of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) base in Lumbia Airport Friday afternoon, July 29, 2016, to protest the use of the base by the Americans under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.
The Americans — human rights lawyer Arturo Viscara, social worker Luis Patterson, and Kelsen Caldwell, leader of the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites in Seattle, Washington— were joined by some 60 local militants when they staged a rally in Lumbia, this city.
“The US military will just turn this beautiful place into a hotspot of glitzy bars. We will petition the US Congress to stop the funding for EDCA ,” Caldwell said.
The militants filed a petition before Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and the City Council expressing their support for the city government’s plan to ask the national government to convert Lumbia airport into “a community of socialized houses and commercial centers.”
Under EDCA, the military base in Lumbia Airport and three other bases in the country were identified as possible sites to house US personnel on a rotation basis, and to stockpile equipment.
Before its turnover to the PAF, Lumbia was the domestic passenger terminal for Northern Mindanao before it was transferred to Laguindingan Airport three years ago.
Weldon Barros, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Northern Mindanao said they asked why Lumbia is selected when it is more than 1,358 kilometers away from the West Philippine Sea, the potential flash point between Philippines and China.
“If the US really wants to help us, why doesn’t it establish a base at the West Philippines Sea or nearby instead? “ Barros asked. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)