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MANILA, Philippines – With heightened tension over maritime territorial disputes, the Balikatan military exercises between Philippine and US troops will center this year on maritime security and domain awareness.
This was announced by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at the official opening of the joint military exercises at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
I am sure that this year s Balikatan exercises would also zero in on enhancing our combined capacity to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster response, as well as to deal with security and improve our maritime domain awareness, he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, as well as Filipino and US military officials, attended the opening.
Del Rosario said the alliance between the Philippines and the US has remained a cornerstone for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) elevates to a higher plane our defense engagement and provides new momentum to our partnership, he said. This agreement increases the regional significance of our defense alliance, which has been a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
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Del Rosario said the agreement will also boost Philippine capabilities in the areas of maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
We now confront the new threats of terrorism and continue to endure systemic security and economic problems, both regionally and globally, he said.
Del Rosario said in recent years, tensions in the Asia-Pacific have increased due to excessive and expansive maritime and territorial claims, undermining the rule of law.
Aggressive patterns of behavior, aimed at changing the status quo, threaten peace and stability in the region, he said.
With the launch of the Balikatan exercises today, its 30th iteration, we have once again shown the world the strength and continuing relevance of our alliance, and its ability to confront new challenges.
With the EDCA, we will be able to preposition equipment in agreed locations, allowing our militaries to respond more rapidly in times of emergencies like Typhoon Yolanda. In responding to the new normal like Yolanda, a speedy response means that more lives will be saved.
Armed Forces Gen.
Emmanuel Bautista said Balikatan is a key factor in advancing peace and security in the Asia-Pacific despite the ever evolving regional security challenges.
For six decades since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, the Philippines and the United States stood shoulder to shoulder in commitment to peace, security, stability and development, he said.
This year s Balikatan focuses on maritime security, and the conduct of exercises will result to a platform for regional engagement and the development of military capabilities, advance our operability and capacity in joint planning and execution.
US exercise director Marine Col John Rutherford said the joint training is not being done to threaten any nation.
This growing capability is not a threat to other nations but, in fact, promotes regional security, he said.
Philippine exercise director Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye said the series of joint collaboration and training has enhanced the skills, capability and methodologies that both forces can use in dealing with man-made and natural calamities.
More than just a joint military program that aims at enhancing our combat readiness, the series of Balikatan exercises has continued to evolve into an activity that surpassed its original intent and that is promoting regional peace and stability by ensuring interoperability and readiness of both forces, he said.
Balikatan would test the combat readiness of Filipino and US troops to respond to any maritime threats, including piracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Nearly 5,500 American and Filipino troops are taking part in the two-week exercise in different parts of Luzon.
It will see US F-18 fighters rehearse bombing runs and troops involved in live fire drills.
Venues of this year s Balikatan will be Eastern Visayas and the Bicol region; and Palawan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales and Nueva Ecija.
In Eastern Visayas and Bicol, the joint exercises will be mainly humanitarian activities.
In Central Luzon, as well as Palawan, it will be on maritime security and maritime awareness training.
Palawan and Zambales are two provinces that have territorial jurisdictions over the Kalayaan Island Group and the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal that China has included in its all-encompassing maritime claim to almost the entire South China Sea.
US and Filipino military planners said the training in Palawan and Zambales will just be confined to table-top exercises.
Military communications, tactics and doctrines will be revisited to further enhance interoperability between Filipino and US forces.
In Central Luzon, live air and ground fire exercises will be held at Crow Valley in Tarlac, while joint and survival combat training will be held in the jungles of Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
Protesters picket DND
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) picketed yesterday the Department of National Defense (DND) to protest the opening of this year s Balikatan.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said Balikatan, like EDCA, does not benefit the Filipino people.
Our AFP will not modernize just because we conduct war games with US forces, he said.
Our capacity to defend our territory against China will not be improved just because there are training exercises.
It is silly that China is even being mentioned since the US has expressed its non-committal to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed confrontation with China.
Reyes said the opening of five military facilities to US forces will make the Balikatan a year-long event.
The EDCA assures that thousands of US forces will be rotated in the Philippines, he said.
The Balikatan that takes place for 10 days will transform into the permanent stationing of troops all year round.
Quoting the website of Marine Corps Times, Reyes said more Marines will likely rotate through the country under the new agreement, possibly even evolving to a semi-permanent and regular rotation like the one in Darwin, Australia.
As it stands, the deal will give the US greater access to Filipino ports, airfields and military bases, he quoted the website as saying. With Helen Flores, Rhodina Villanueva
By omniatv. Author: filistina Translator: Anna Papoutsi
Private firms providing security services will soon undertake the guarding of migrants detention centres, as well as the policing of special prisoners with monitoring devices, thus paving the way towards the privatisation of prisons in Greece, following the US and UK standards.
According to EUobserver, the British G4S, the largest private security company in the world, is among the companies that will be competing for undertaking the guarding of migrants detention centers in Paranesti Dramas, Corinth and Orestiada. The funding is provided by the Public Investment Programme and the European Return Fund.1
Let s see which is the biggest among the private security providing companies, although they don t differ largely from each other:
G4S (formerly Group 4 Securicor) is a British multinational security company based in Crawley, UK.
It is the largest security company in the world and does business in some 125 countries.
Its basic services include staffed security services , providing selected and trained security professionals. The company also provides security systems , such as entry control, CCTV, intrusion alarms, fire detection, video and technology for building security systems. The monitoring and reaction services is another core service, where G4S provides security patrols, response services as well as monitoring and alarm receiving services.
G4S also provides security services installation , including integrated services to large areas or land for commercial customers and the government. The G4S also provides electronic tagging and monitoring of prisoners in their home or community (monitoring devices). The company provides support operations for the police forces.
Also, G4S manages juvenile and adult detention centres in whatever has to do with the facilities and the people being held in them. This also includes the management of centres used for the detention of asylum seekers. Prisoners custody is another essential service.
G4S transfers prisoners and asylum seekers to and from the court houses, police stations and detention centres.2
The role of G4S to the Israeli apartheid
G4S is complicit to the Israeli occupation of Palestine by supplying equipment and services for use on security checkpoints, on illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and on the maintenance of the prison system in Israel. The Palestinian political prisoners face systematic torture and abuse during arrest and detention at the hands of the Israeli army. In 2007, the Israeli subsidiary of G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems for major Israeli prisons.
G4S provides security systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, where Palestinian political prisoners, from the occupied Palestinian territories within Israel, are being held. The company also provides equipment to the Ofer prison, located at the occupied West Bank and the Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention centres, which human rights groups have repeatedly denounced for torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, including imprisoned children. G4S provides security services at various levels to prisons, where Palestinian detainees are regularly subjected to torture and abuse.
In the Al Jalame prison, Palestinian children are held locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks.
According to Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is forbidden to transfer Palestinian prisoners from the occupied territories to prisons inside Israel. Nonetheless, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are illegally imprisoned inside Israel. By providing equipment to these prisons, G4S is actively involved in violations of international law.
G4S is also involved in other aspects of the Israeli occupation and the apartheid regime: it supplies equipment and services for the Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank which are part of the illegal Israeli Wall route but also for the points blocking the occupied territories of Gaza.
G4S has also signed contracts with the headquarters of the Israeli police in the West Bank and private companies for equipment and services.3
Profit at the expense of human rights
G4S profits from the violation of human rights around the world. G4S has signed contracts to manage security in Afghanistan and Iraq and plays an important role in the operation of migrant detention centres and in deportations, as outsourced services, getting profit from the exploitation of migrants. One of the victims is Jimmy Mubenga who died during his violent deportation from the UK to Angola.
The death of Jimmy Mubenga
In October 2010, the 46-year old Jimmy Mubenga died on board the plane where he was being held by 3 G4S guards, while being deporting.
The security guards kept him firmly tied in place, while Mubenga was shouting and trying to resist deportation. Passengers reported that they heard him shouting don t do this and they are trying to kill me. The Scotland Yard homicide unit launched an investigation after his death and described the case as inexplicable .
The 3 G4S guards were released on bail.
In February 2011, The Guardian reported that G4S guards in the UK had been repeatedly accused of dangerous excessive use of violence against detainees and asylum seekers, according to information by company s employees after Mumbenga s death. Next fall, G4S was again confronted with allegations when company s guards were accused of verbally harassing and intimidating prisoners in an aggressive and racist language.4
Allegations about prisons in South Africa
In October 2013, BBC reported that there were allegations about detainees being tortured in Mangaung prison in South Africa. BBC presented a research project from Wits University in Johannesburg, that claimed that dozens of the approximately 3,000 prisoners in the G4S prison have been tortured with the use of electric shocks and forced injections.
In October 2013, G4S stated that it was investigating the allegations.
In recent years, G4S faces an increasingly stronger boycott movement around the world, with political activists organizing campaigns and protests against G4S and with businesses, universities and organisations stopping their cooperation with this security services company.5
- ^ (www.crisismirror.info)
- ^ http://news247.gr/eidiseis/koinonia/se_idiwtikes_etaireies_fulakshs_pernoun_ta_kentra_krathshs_metanastwn.2719443.html (news247.gr)
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G4S (en.wikipedia.org)
- ^ http://samidoun.ca/2013/01/vote-now-g4s-worst-company/?print=1 (samidoun.ca)
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G4S (en.wikipedia.org)
- ^ http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adri-nieuwhof/g4s-feels-heat-international-boycott-campaign (electronicintifada.net)