Former Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Arthur Lim today filed before the Supreme Court a petition for a temporary restraining order that would stop Balikatan 02-1, which officially started yesterday.
Lim claims that the “unprecedented deployment of American soldiers in Mindanao” is disguised as part of the military exercise under the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), but in reality, it is an attempt “to stamp out the Abu Sayyaf menace — a purely domestic peace and order problem”.
He said neither VFA or the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951(MDT) justifies the presence of US troops. VFA, he said, does not allow foreign troops to engage in combat disguised as military exercises. He added that ASG is an internal problem, and not an external threat. Therefore, MDT provisions do not apply to to Balikatan 02-1.
There is another document, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement between the two governments, but is is reportedly not yet signed. Meanwhile, Balikatan officially started yesterday but its terms of reference has yet to be finalized.
Kakaiba, di po ba?