U.S. INTEL OFFICER TOUR OF BICOL NPA AREAS QUESTIONED  

Manila, Feb. 18, 2003 (Tribune) -- A militant group of fishermen yesterday urged Congress to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegation of New People's Army (NPA) spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal that the recent inspection tour by a US military official in one of the communist strongholds in the Bicol region was facilitated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

US Army Maj. Jeffrey Antonio was reportedly toured by the AFP military commanders in Bacon and Donsol in Sorsogon, and in the towns of Libon, Camalig, Polongui, Oas and Ligao in Albay.

According to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) national chairman Fernando Hicap, the recent inspection tour by the American Army official might be a prelude to increasing US military intervention in the Philippines, in collusion with the AFP and local authorities, against the NPA.

Hicap noted the report on the presence of US military officials in areas of armed conflict was very alarming since this was not the first of its kind. Concerned groups such as human rights watchdogs and people's organizations have expressed concern over the matter.

“Reliable reports said US military officials were also seen in Mindoro island overseeing AFP military operations two years ago. The US armed forces' role in the local counter insurgency operations is getting bigger and bolder everyday and this must cause general alarm for Filipinos all over the archipelago,” he pointed out.

Hicap stressed the House of Representatives should immediately conduct a congressional inquiry into the issue before the US military officials, in conspiracy with Malacañang and the military, could turn the country into another Vietnam.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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