Manila demonstration protests additional U.S. troops - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Manila demonstration protests additional U.S. troops

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - While we wait for official confirmation from the nation's capitol about the Department of Defense's future plans for the military buildup and troops reconfiguration in Okinawa, in the Philippines a protest was held in Manila where activists are sending a message they don't want additional U.S. troops.

Although national and international media have been reporting the DoD and Japan are working to amend their 2006 agreement outlining the reduction of troops in Okinawa and their relocation to Guam, in the Philippines over the weekend, Filipino activists rallied near the U.S. Embassy in Manila to protest ongoing negotiations between the Philippines government and Washington to station more U.S. troops in the country. Saturday's protest also commemorated the 113th anniversary of the Philippine-American War, where Filipino insurgents resisted American colonial forces.

Secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or the New Patriotic Alliance, Renato Reyes says the Philippine-American War signified the start of American imperialist interests in the Philippines, the remnants of which persist to this day. It was last Friday and through the weekend Japanese media began a surge of reports about the possible reduction of troops that will be relocated from Okinawa to Guam. Instead of all 8,000 coming to the territory, a little less than 5,000 would come here with the remaining Marines to be rotated through other Pacific areas like Hawaii, Australia and the Philippines.

The president as well as Department of Defense secretary Leon Panetta on many occasions have stressed the need to bolster the nation's defense in the Asia Pacific Region. The effort to expand military ties between the United States and the Philippines, which voted to remove huge American naval and air bases 20 years ago, comes as both countries grapple with the growing assertiveness of China,  the new patriotic alliance however is against additional U.S. presence in the Philippines. "We are against any form of U.S. intervention which we believe only exacerbates the tension, would only provoke China and North Korea and would only add to the problem and complication in the region. The U.S. is not here to defend peace, they are here to look after their own economic and political interest," he said.

The Philippine Defence Minister, Voltaire Gazmin, said last month the country was considering a U.S. proposal to deploy surveillance aircraft on a temporary, rotating basis to enhance its ability to guard disputed areas in the South China Sea. Gazmin said there would be more exercises with U.S. forces and a rotating presence through port visits for exercises, repairs and resupply. Gazmin along with the Philippine Foreign Minister are set to visit Washington next month for talks with their counterparts, secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Panetta.

Evidently the visit will come after the Department of Defense reportedly will announce next week their new amended agreement with Japan.

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