MANILA. The Board of Inquiry (BOI) report confirming that “six American nationals” were at the command center of the Special Action Force (SAF) in the Mamasapano operations reinforces the criminal cases filed by rights victims at the International Peoples’ Tribunal launched yesterday against Pres. Aquino and the US government.
Elmer Labog, chair of the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), one of the complainants in the IPT, said that “the US should reveal its true role in military operations in the country.”
In communications with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the US Embassy in Manila has officially denied involvement in the Mamasapano operations to get US-wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan”.
The botched operations killed at least 67 Filipinos, including 44 elite police commandos dubbed the “SAF44”, and sparked a nationwide outrage peaking at calls for Aquino to resign.
Labog said that “the US has long been funding, equipping, training and directing local state forces to add to its own military presence in the Philippines and their pivot to Asia.”
“This US presence has claimed more victims. A recent case is the extrajudicial killing of 63-year old Florencio “Bong” Romano, whose body was discovered last March 8 in Barangay Soro-soro, Batangas City, and the disappearance of Southern Tagalog labor leader Benjamen Villeno since September 2013. Cases of Gitmo-styled detention and torture were also documented by human rights group Karapatan,” Labog said.
The labor group is among the complainants/plaintiffs in more than 40 cases filed at the international tribunal. The cases comprise of violations against civil, political, economic, social, cultural and self-determination rights.
The IPT convenors include the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the US-based National Lawyers Guild (NLG), International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), and IBON International.
Leading the jurors is former US Representative Cynthia Ann McKinney and Azadeh Shahshahani of the US-based National Lawyers League (NLG).
The US is maintaining more than 1,000 military personnel in 130 countries and pushed for a strategic pivot into Asia along with economic and trade offensives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) which the Philippines is hosting this year.
Philippine Coordinating Secretariat
International Peoples’ Tribunal
For more information on the International Peoples’ Tribunal, visit internationalpeoplestribunal.org.