Ilocanos reject the Balikatan Exercises 2024—NDF-Ilocos

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This article is available in Pilipino

“Ilocanos are against Balikatan 2024,” Rosa Guidon, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Ilocos, declared. She said Ilocanos are fearful because some parts of the Balikatan 2024 war games will be held at the 4th Marine Brigade camp at the beach of Barangay Bobon, Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Like last year, the AFP and the US will most probably stop fisherfolk in Ilocos Norte from going to the sea to give way for war games in the area. “Communities in Burgos [and neighboring towns] will be agitated again,” she said.

Last year, live fire exercises were launched in this area, disrupting and causing unrest among the people. They also conducted simulation exercises here involving the participation of civilians in war games, such as lifting American soldiers as mock war casualties.

This year, they will conduct a sea exercise between the naval and coast guard ships of the Philippines, the US and France. A live-fire exercise (maritime strike LFX) is also scheduled for May 8 in Laoag City.

“The Ilocano masses are aware that this biggest war games of the imperialist US is preparation for war against China,” Ka Rosa said. Because of this, Ilocanos now say the words “let no one sleep, sooner or later there will be war in our yard!”

The war games double the suffering of the Ilocano people, especially the fisherfolk and peasants due to the damages they already suffer from the current El Niño. “The catch is low…and the crops are withered and the land is barren and…now they [are] even facing the danger of a war in the Philippines at any time, in their backyard in Ilocos Norte,” according to Ka Rosa.

To alleviate the pain and destruction brought by the Balikatan 2024 war games, the camp of the 4th Marine Brigade transformed its camp to a a “military tourism park”. The military invites the public to enter the camp to show off the military complex, planes and war equipment. Since its construction, American soldiers have been setting up their monitoring facility inside the camp to monitor China’s movements.

On April 22, the US 356th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group and the 355th Aviation Engineer Wing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines boasted of directing the construction of a “school facility” in La Union. Dubbed “humanitarian aid,” the school, like other civilian structures, are all for show to divert the attention of the people of Ilocos away from the shootings and bombings in their region.

“The Ilocanos are united with the Ivatans, Cagayanons and other Filipino people in opposing the ongoing Balikatan Exercises that are harming the people,” Ka Rosa declared.

AB: Ilocanos reject the Balikatan Exercises 2024—NDF-Ilocos