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Balikatan Fund Mess Whistleblower Reveals ‘US Combat Participation’ VS Abu Sayyaf (Updated With Reactions)

August 26, 2009

gadian affidavit montage V2

Lieutenant Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, liaison officer for Balikatan 2002 is blowing her whistle again.

This time she claims in an 8-page affidavit that American combat troops have been going on actual front-line combat patrols against the Abu Sayyaf.

While there are portions in the sworn statement where Gadian admits she does not have first-hand knowledge of her revelation, they are quite controversial just the same:

These include the regular deployment of US warships in the conflict zone even while there are no Balikatan war games:

20. Some members of the Philippine military confirmed to me that
US troops are embedded in Philippine troops who are engaged in actual
combat in Mindanao.

21. The US is allowed to use intelligence equipment within the
Philippine archipelago even outside of the Balikatan exercises. One of
these is the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a special intelligence aircraft
exclusively used by the Americans. In joint military briefings that I
attended, military officers from the Philippine and US military often
mention the use of UAVs by the Americans to monitor and track down the
location of the target enemy (particularly the Abu Sayaf and Muslim
secessionist groups). In 2007, a fisherman found parts of an AUV that
crashed somewhere in Zamboanga del Sur. A retired army personnel
informed me about it. In my capacity as deputy chief of the CMO (Civil
Military Operations) of the Western Mindanao Command, I facilitated the
recovery of the parts and coordinated for the purpose with the American
liaison non-commissioned officer of the Joint Special Operations Task
Force Philippines. I was informed that they had a problem with
transportation and security in going to the area. Until I left in July 2007, I
had no more knowledge of what happened to it.

23. The continuous presence of the US troops in the country has
been justified to us as part of the counter-terrorism measures of the United
States and is framed outside of the Balikatan Exercises but within the
Visiting Forces Agreement. But many officers of the AFP know that the
interest of the United States is in the oil and natural gas exploration going
on in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and Palawan and because Mindanao is a
strategic area in relation to Southeast Asia.

The lady officer, who also detailed the aalleged misuse of Balikatan funds now also cites the re-emergence of prostitution to “service” American GIs on R & R:

27. The R & R (called “Liberty” by the Americans) of the US troops
is included in the planning of the Balikatan exercises. In the Balikatan
exercises where I was involved, the specific areas where they could go
were pre-determined. This was not disclosed to the media. In 2002, it was
Angeles and the American soldiers could go as far as Subic. In 2002-1, the
R & R places were Angeles, Subic and Cebu. The Americans decide where
their troops can go and we are only informed about it. The so-called
“Public Affairs Guidance” approved by both sides focus on prescribed
public behavior for the troops and on cultural sensitivity. Nothing is said
about prostitution. They are simply told that they should be aware of the
cultural sensitivity of Filipinos. But I witnessed how officers and enlisted
personnel of the US military pick up women prostitutes and how women
prostitutes go to their hotel rooms. I also received reports of many “sexual
activities” of US troops in all sorts of places during their “R & R.”
28. Sometime in 2003, an American serviceman (a member of the
special forces called “green beret”) was killed by a bomb while eating in a
restaurant by the road. Before the 2003 incident, US soldiers freely roam
around Zamboanga City and patronize prostitution places in the city.
After the 2003 incident, soldiers are generally restricted to camp although some are able to go out to patronize establishments engaged in prostitution. Because of the restrictions, Filipino women prostitutes now go to Camp Navarro to “service” US servicemen. This is common knowledge among Philippine and US military officials. The sexual servicing occurs in different areas in the Camp. Many think that “nababastos ang kampo” because of the prostitution going on within the Camp.

29. Over the years, I saw an increase in the number of
establishments in Zamboanga City catering to US servicemen, and many of
these are obviously involved in prostitution.

30. I experienced and witnessed the arrogant, high-handed and
imperious conduct, behavior and attitude of many US military officers and
enlisted personnel as well as their civilian employees towards us Filipinos.
Generally, they call us like they are summoning their servants. They often
impose on us their wishes and expect us to submit to their commands. On
the whole, their assertions of power and authority appear like they rule
over us and the country.

Gadian also details for the first time the nature of U.S. military basing structures abd assets in the deep Philippine South:

22. The Americans also maintain a presence along the borders of the
Philippine archipelago. US warships called frigates (frigates are for war
and equipped with missiles) operate within the Philippines’ exclusive
economic zone. Frigates are utilized as “fleet in being,” which means it is a
show of force. I do not know their activities in the area. Once a junior
officer in the Philippine Navy (from the operations center of the Naval
Forces Western Mindanao based in Zamboanga) called me up and asked
me if we were aware of the presence of the US warships along the borders
of the Philippines. I said no. I referred him to the operations center in
charge of the air, land and sea forces. He called back and said that they
did not know either. I referred him to the Western Mindanao Command.
He did not call up again. A staff mine also informed me that he and
several others went to the aircraft carrier anchored at the border, upon the
instructions of superiors, and that they sold Tanduay rhum to the
American military personnel inside.

A interesting footnote in Gadian’s disclosures is that her lawyer is Atty. Evalyn Ursua, the former lawyer of Subic rape victim Suzette ‘Nicole’ Sombilhon.

(Writer’s note: Ms. Gadian, it has been pointed out to me, is no longer in the actice service.)

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090826-222102/US-troops-join-combatex-RP-Navy-exec

There’s no immediate reaction yet from the AFP high command nor Malacanang.

Update:

The reactions from the U.S. Emassy in Manila, and from the Philippine government now:

us embassy MANILA 1

The United States Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson:

US forces are not involved in combat operations.
They are in the Philippines on temporary deployment to support and share information with the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement and at the invitation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government.

adan and manalo

Assistant Secretary Edilberto Adan, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement:

The LOCVFA mission headed by Senator Rodolfo Biazon and Congressman Antonio Cuenco after its visit to Mindanao in September last year concluded that the US troops are not engaged in combat operations and that there are no permanent bases set up by the Visiting Forces.

DFA Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo:

The VFA has passed every test of constitutionality, with a clear majority of the Senate ratifying it on May 27, 1999.

The VFA has been self-evidently in the Philippine national interest and has remained important, useful and relevant as it has enabled the Armed Forces of the Philippines to access new defense technologies, systems, best practices, models and information that could be adapted to Philippine requirements.

Without such access, the already difficult and expensive task of Philippine defense modernization would be severely hampered. The conclusion of the LOCVFA fact-finding team to Mindanao that “The visiting US troops were not engaged in combat; there were no permanent US bases or facilities; and there was no violation of Philippine laws. It remains to be so today.

The US is the Philippines’s only Mutual Defense Treaty ally and the RP-US Alliance was a cornerstone of its national security strategy.

Our alliance contributes to regional stability. It strengthens defense cooperation with other regional countries that are important to both the Philippines and the United States. This enhances security in our vital regional neighborhood, namely, East Asia and the Western Pacific.

This partnership has been playing a vital role in enhancing Philippine national security, as well as maintaining regional peace and stability.
In turn, it helps to create a stable environment conducive to economic development.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090827-222296/US-troops-not-joining-Mindanao-war—-embassy

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