Fisherfolks condemn U.S. saber rattling in Philippine waters

This article is available in Pilipino

Pamalakaya condemned the US combat maneuvers in what it called the multilateral maritime cooperative activity (MMCA) in Philippine territorial waters on April 7. Apart from the Philippines and the US, the warships of Australia and Japan participated in the provocative activity. Prior to this, the US together with the Philippine naval forces, conducted two similar activities in the West Philippine Sea in Mindoro and Palawan.

The activities covered the traditional fishing areas of Filipino fishermen.

“It is the Filipino fisherfolk all over again who will bear the brunt of China’s retaliation against these provocative naval drills with other countries,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

He said the presence of foreign troops did not stop China’s harassment against fisherfolks in the past. Instead, it baited Chine to position additional Chinese forces in the area.

Pamalakaya questioned the Marcos regime’s interest in the US’s warmongering activities, when its more urgent task is to push China to leave Philippine maritime territory.

Gabriela also condemned the US and its allies’ conduct of provocative activities in the Philippines, and called it intervention in the Philippines’ internal conflict with China. As with Pamalakaya, Gabriela sees the activity will only worsen tensions in the South China Sea.

“The presence of foreign military forces in the West Philippine Sea not only threatens our territorial integrity but also jeopardizes the safety and livelihoods of local communities and fishermen,” it said.

Tension is sure to accelerate this April due to the overlapping wargames scheduled by the US in the Philippines. On April 8, it will start Cope Thunder. On April 22, Balikatan will begin in Palawan and Batanes.

Before the MMCA, the US has already launched three “maritime cooperative activities” in Palawan and Mindoro, with the AFP’s naval forces. Its latest was that on February 9, where BRP Gregorio del Pilar and USS Gabrielle Giffords sailed together. Both ships have helicopters on board which were also used in military maneuvers.

AB: Fisherfolks condemn U.S. saber rattling in Philippine waters