CPT delegates visiting the Philippines February 14-29 joined members of the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up and former base workers in a ritual of prayer and cleansing at what used to be the largest U.S. military bases beyond its borders.
“We cry out with the people who live in the shadows of Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Station, who have suffered from U.S. militarization and who live with the legacy of toxic waste,” the group declared.
Standing near old bunkers where the U.S. once stored all types of ammunition to supply various wars of intervention around the world, the group prayed a litany of contrition for complicity in the destructive use of these former bases.
At Clark field, participants carried out their cleansing ritual inside a former ammunition bunker that currently contains PVC irrigation pipes to water the long, neat rows of citrus plantations that now occupy a portion of the base. “It appears that the biblical prophecy of ‘turning spears into pruning hooks’ is beginning to become reality here,” said CPT Reservist Rey Lopez.
However, delegates also saw a U.S. warship docked at Subic and witnessed U.S./Philippine joint military exercises being carried out. Known as Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) in the Philippines, these exercises are ostensibly an opportunity for 6,000 U.S. military from all three services, Army, Navy, and Air Force, to “train” Philippine military and police how to handle “emergency” situations. Most Filipinos here resent the incursion and see it as part of an ongoing toxic intervention by the U.S.
Participants in CPT’s February 14-29 delegation to the Philippines were: Julius Camannong (Zamboanga City, Philippines), Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Santa Monica, CA), Rey Lopez (Manila, Philippines), Camilia MacPherson (Toronto, ON), Steve Ramer (Ft. Collins, CO), Cromwell Rabaya (Kidapawan, Philippines), Henry Troyer (Springfield, MO), Nathaniel Villareal (Zamboanga City, Philippines), and Dick Williams (Boulder, CO).