Crossroads: Sovereignty in name


This week I received a text message from friends in Cagayan informing me that US and Philippine troops are staging Balikatan 2012 exercises in Sta Ana, Cagayan. Earlier, I saw TV footages and newspaper reports of Balikatan exercises in Crow Valley formerly of the Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga.

All these Balikatan exercises are approved under the Visiting Forces Agreement – that signed document that virtually gave the United States of America the blanket authority to make the whole archipelago its US base in the Far East. Never mind that we kicked them years ago in the decade of the 90’s to show our nationalism. Never mind that most senators in that now to be dominated by dynaties’ Senate voted against extending the stay of US forces in our land. Never mind. The whole Philippines is now a US military base. So, why worry indeed if China is hoisting its flag in Spratlys? Do we not have the mighty power of Uncle Sam in our shores? They did not leave – they just wanted a bigger space – which we granted to them on a diamond platter.

Never mind that there are Daniel Smiths. Never mind if there will be Nicoles. Just never mind. Our sovereignty is sadly only on paper, only on the Constitution, only in principle, never in practice, never in action, never in the soul. We Filipinos seem to have twisted priorities and rage. We are shouting ourselves hoarse over the Cybercrime act. We are adamantly fighting over reproduction and women’s rights to their own bodies. But are we even raising a ruckus over these Balikatan exercises? Only a few patriotic souls have raged and questioned these joint military exercises. Do we have a senator resigning over the continued violation of our sovereignty?

The TV footage I saw on Solar TV showed the might and strength of the weaponry they used at Crow Valley. Ammunition pounding on that bare landscape that Pinatubo scarred. Big men with big toys in big playgrounds approximating desert lands (Afghanistan perhaps?) in mock battles. Big men with plenty of nice vehicles (yellow painted Humvees that are bomb proof I am told). Big men with microphones on their helmets. Big men like the Men in Black eyes all shaded from the sun and blinding ashes of Pinatubo. Big men in uniform drenching in sweat. In that TV footage, the American soldiers never left. They still OWN Crow Valley.

And the TV reporter ended the coverage of the Balikatan exercise with, “And last came the Philippine Army (PA) who know the terrain and the people for the mopping up operations.” Ha, the PA comes last for mopping up.

Aba, pag totoong buhay yan, mauuna ba naman ang mga sidekick? Hindi ah, sila ang unang pinapasugod. Sila ang pambala sa kanyon. Sila ang mahahagisan ng granada. Pagkatapos, dadating ang mga bida. Photo ops na lang sila. Shake hands dito, shake hands doon. Walang pawis, walang pagod. Di ba marami daw silang hitech hitech na gamit. Nag-exercise pa tayo! Ganito din lang ang kalalabasan.

Doon daw sa Cagayan, medical at relief operations daw ang eksena. Gaya din ng ginawa sa Ilocos noong isang taon. Nagpatayo ng mga eskwela at nag-medical mission din. Wala pa akong nabasa kung ilan ang Pinoy sa mga sundalong Kano. Noong isang taon, marami silang Pinoy. Kasi nakakapagsalita sila ng Tagalog, kahit na may axsent na Kano. Ang importante, naiintindihan nila tayo kung kinukutya na natin sila. O ipinagpapalit ng bagoong. Di ba?

Kailan din kaya aalma ang mga Pinoy kagaya ng pag-alma sa Cybercrime law? Kailan kaya natin matitikman na maging bida sa sarili nating armadong pwersa, kailan kaya matatamasa ang soberanya, ang kalayaan sa sarili nating lupa.#

Honoring Women who fought for life, land and resources. Salute to the grand ladies of the Cordillera who were awarded last Tuesday for being at the forefront of the defense of land and life. The battle for the lands that Chico Dam would have inundated was also a battle of the women. The battle against Cellophil Resources Corporation was also the women’s war. The fight to stop large scale destructive mining is as much a women’s struggle to this day. Congratulations to Mother Petra Macliing who is showing us how to age gracefully and “fightingly”, Leticia Bula-At, Endena Cogasi, Maria Galong who continue to work with the younger generation in educating the people about development aggression.

Salute, salute and may your tribe of indigenous women increase. #


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