Climate Justice is Peace! No to US Balikatan Exercises!

Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines does not welcome the US troops arriving in our country under the guise of improving peace and strengthening international relations. 

It is historically known that the United States’ military-industrial complex is the largest single-institution carbon emitter in the world. It outspends every country in the creation of arms and expansion of the military, in turn setting the stage for further consumption of even more liquid fuels and even more carbon gas emissions, all in the name of enforcing its tyrannical profit-driven system around the world. It is unsurprising that the largest institutional emitter also has a long history of bio- and ecological disregard as it continues to engage in unjust wars globally, harming and putting millions of lives at risk. 

The Balikatan exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (VFA-EDCA) are part and parcel of the worsening of climate change and destruction of the environment caused by US military actions. The posturing and projecting done by the US and other foreign powers on our soil unnecessarily adds to the already-heavy state of air, land, and sea pollution in the country, on top of heightening and further provoking military tension in the region. It is planned that during the live-fire exercise at sea, Filipino and American troops will fire at and sink a target vessel, an old fishing boat off the coast of Zambales, putting local marine life at risk. Additionally, the security, safety, and livelihood of the nearby fishing and coastal community will be put at extreme risk with the heightened militarization and the live-fire exercises taking place. 

The US, through its chief local puppet Marcos Jr., is now also using the VFA-EDCA to push for the construction of at least four NEW military bases in areas such as Cagayan and Palawan, both biodiversity hotspots, making these already-vulnerable areas subject to even more ecological destruction, as well as subjecting local and indigenous communities to displacement and militarization. 

As with the construction of the military bases, the Balikatan exercises will do NOTHING to improve our defence. It will only add to the ongoing war and militarization of communities and abuses against environmental defenders. It will only add danger to our already endangered species and validate the emissions brought about by the shipment of military equipment. As climate activists, it is clear to us that we cannot have climate justice as long as imperialist countries like the United States continue to seek to expand their operations of both military and fossil fuel. 

We stand with the sectors here today and call to Junk the VFA-EDCA and to put a stop to the Balikatan exercises!


Published by yacaphilippines

Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines is an alliance of individuals, youth organizations, and student councils that advocate for immediate youth-led global climate action. The Fridays for Future of the Philippines.

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