National-democratic groups greet first day of Balikatan 2024 with protests

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National-democratic groups protested before Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in Quezon City on April 22. The protest marked the start of Balikatan 39-24. This year’s Balikatan, the 39th since the 1990s, will be the largest in its history with 11,000 American troops participating. It will involve 14 US allied countries as participants and observers.

Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the groups denounced the war games, which they percieve as a “shameful proof of the subservient foreign policy of the government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.”

Since its inception, Balikatan has not been designed to promote the national interest of Filipinos, according to the groups. Its real aim is to allow the US to power-project and preserve its hegemony in this part of the world.

“During this period, Balikatan has only reinforced our self-defeating dependence on US military aid and supply of weapons,” according to the group. “It prevented us from developing a comprehensive security program anchored on the principle of asserting an independent foreign policy.”

Balikatan is also destructive to the environment, according to Bayan. Public resources are squandered instead of prioriry needs of Filipinos, it said. Apart from this, these war games also allow the US to drag the Philippines into its inter-imperialist conflict with China, the group explained.

“We call on the people to resist Balikatan, oppose US provocations in the region, expel US military facilities and other foreign troops, and condemn the Marcos government for shamelessly undermining our sovereignty,” it concluded.

AB: National-democratic groups greet first day of Balikatan 2024 with protests