Resist the Balikatan Exercises 2023 in Ilocos Norte! Fight for the security and sovereignty of the Philippines against the US imperialist hegemony!

This article is available in PilipinoIloco

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Ilocos vehemently resists and condemns the US imperialist and the Marcos regime’s plan of conducting the 38th Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercises in the province of Ilocos Norte on April 24-27, 2023. This would be the second joint exercises to be held in Ilocos Norte after the first joint exercises that took place in Currimao and Laoag City last June 2022 . These military exercises pose danger to the people residing in the said area and would trample on the sovereignty of the Philippines.

Col. Michael Logico who would lead the 38th Balikatan Exercises revealed that barangay Bayog, of the municipality of Burgos had been pre-identified as the operational area of the exercises on April 24-27. The shoreline of Bayog will serve as the coastal air defense site of the exercises, where live fire exercises will be carried out to test the new war materiel of the United States.

President Marcos, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc and the Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte allowed the planned exercises, but did not consult and seek the permission of the residents of the area where the military exercises would be held. This is inspite of the trainors’ warnings of the dangers of the said exercises including the possibility of destruction of the coral reefs’ in the coastal area.

The NDF-Ilocos primarily condemns the imperialist US and the connivance of President Marcos, the AFP and the Department of National Defense for the said military exercises to be conducted in the province. We denounce them for pre-identifying Bayog as their operational area and coastal air defense site and venue for live fire exercises which pose risks to the village people of Bayog and other communities in Ilocos Norte that the exercises will cover.

In the past 37 years, the US-RP Balikatan Exercises are conducted by the US Armed Forces to train the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strengthen the US imperialist’s defense against its rival imperialist powers. The US-RP Balikatan Exercises is contained in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States. This year’s Balikatan Exercises that would be held in Ilocos Norte, as well as in Fuga, Calayan and Batanes is among the biggest trainings that the US will run in the Philippines that would involve 16,000 forces of the AFP and the US Armed Forces.

Likewise, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III is currently going around Asian nations to execute their plan of setting up EDCA sites in the region. EDCA sites are locations designated by the US to where its military bases and facilities would be put up. In this regard, the NDF-Ilocos unites with the Filipino people in condemning the visitation of Austin in the Philippines and the conspiracy of DND Secretary Carlito Galvez for the completion of the five EDCA sites being set up here in the Philippines and adding four more sites. Apparently, these EDCA sites serve as bases for the US imperialist war of aggression, not for the defense and security of the Philippines, but rather a magnet for attacks of its enemies such as Russia and China.

Gen. James Bierman, the commanding general of the US Armed Forces’ Third Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Japan, tactlessly revealed that the US has long been preparing the stage for its war against China in the Asia-Pacific. Bierman arrogantly exposed that he is preparing the war theater in the Philippines and Japan, just as he prepared Ukraine to attack Russia. Before they blew up the war in Ukraine, the US trained the soldiers and Ukrainian people. That is why the continuing war in Ukraine is the US’ war and its imperialist allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization against Russia to seize the wealth and resources of Ukraine and dominate Eastern Europe’s economy.

The military exercises currently carried out by the US are part of Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Military Strategy to encircle and attack China that is also pushing its superiority in Asia by building up its military facilities in the West Philippine Sea to corner the territory and its marine resources. The US in return tries hard to wrench China’s military superiority in its similar motive to take hold of the natural wealth in the disputed territory, which is supposedly for the Filipinos.

Contrary to Col. Logico’s duplicity that the impending military training is not a provocation, the live fire exercises that would be carried out in Burgos, Ilocos Norte on April is undeniably another provocation of US against China that asserts the One China Policy or Taiwan’s sovereignty against US’ domination.

The imperialist US empowers its military might to fortify its economic hegemony in Asia-Pacific. This is why US Pres. Joseph Biden gathered the 14 countries for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity last December 2022 to prevent imperialist China’s domination on the investments, trade and control of the resources of the said region.

For what reason does the Philippines allies itself with US for mutual defense against China, when the Marcos regime also claims to be a friend of China? In forging alliance with the US for mutual defense, the Marcos regime in effect is stabbing China’s back. Thus, the Philippines also becomes an inevitable target of China’s attack. Clearly, the Philippines is being crushed in the middle of two colliding rocks – both imperialists US and China. And what is clearer is that, it is not true that the US considers the Philippines as its intimate friend, but a pawn in its war to maintain its hegemony in the world.

The live fire exercises that would take place in Bayog, Burgos, Ilocos Norte on April is too dangerous for the fisherfolk and peasant communities there. They will be exposed to the risk of being hit in the live firing during the exercises. In designating Bayog as a coastal air defense and operational area in the said Balikatan Exercises, it is clear enough that the US is preparing the village as a stage area in its imperialist war against China, and that it is not far-fetched that a war would ensue here in the Philippines, just as the war happening in Ukraine now, and Ilocos Norte would be a war front.

The Ilokano people had been condemning China’s callousness in defying the Philippines’ sovereignty in taking over the West Philippine Sea to grab its natural resources. At the same manner, we should not allow Ilocos to be used as a stage area of US’ war against China. We should not allow the imperialist US to drag our country into catastrophe in its war and transgress our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The NDF-Ilocos enjoins the Ilokano people to fight for our security against the Balikatan Exercises 2023 to be held in Ilocos Norte. We should unite with the Filipino people in resisting US imperialist war of aggression and provocation in its vile interest of monopolizing the world economy. We should struggle with the Filipino people in pursuit of our sovereignty, independence and genuine peace.#

Resist the Balikatan Exercises 2023 in Ilocos Norte! Fight for the security and sovereignty of the Philippines against the US imperialist hegemony!