Alarm raised over presence of 11,000 US troops


AN alliance of women in the Philippines raised the alarm over the presence of more than 11,000 US troops in the country to participate in the upcoming annual joint military drills.

More than 11,000 US and 5,000 Philippine troops will participate in the joint drills, which will run from April 22 to May 10.

Many US troops arrived in the Philippines in March for the joint combat activities leading up to the larger Balikatan, or shoulder-to-shoulder, exercise.

Clarice Palce, secretary-general of Gabriela, said yesterday that the women’s group “raises alarm over a potential rise in violence against women, particularly prostitution and sexual abuse, in areas designated for US military bases during the upcoming Balikatan exercises”.

She slammed how unequal military agreements, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, have effectively provided US soldiers with a licence to commit crimes and abuse Filipinos without facing accountability under Philippine law. — Xinhua

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