Religious leaders laud Duterte’s rejection of US drones

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THE REJECTION of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the request of the American government to use Davao City as a ‘launching pad’ for its war drones continues to get support–this time from bishops, nun and peace advocates.

Bishop Felixberto Calang, convener of the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace) said Duterte “correctly pointed out that it is the US which is capable of sowing terror” when he turned down the request.

“We welcome the pronouncement of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of not allowing Davao City to be used as a launching pad for US military unmanned aerial vehicles or drones nor for the basing of so-called ‘permanently rotational’ military troops,” said Calang.

The Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin) also expressed its opposition to the US government’s drone program.

“Our voice is to speak for women and children of Mindanao who will be most vulnerable to U.S militarism in the region,” said Sr. Noemi P. Degala, Samin executive secretary.

Degala said US drone strikes in Pakistan alone had resulted in the death of 3, 549 people, 197 of these were children.

“This is the fundamental moral issue why the drone program must be rejected— drones act as prosecutor, judge and executioner— on behalf of a U.S president and military situated thousands of miles away from its target,” Degala said.

On Monday, Duterte said the US government had asked the local government to allow them use the old airport as a facility for their drones. He turned this down, he said, saying “puputok ang Davao kung nandito kayo (Davao will be in Davao if you will operate here).”

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Degala said the US drone program is a “mockery of international humanitarian law because it does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in times of armed conflict. In fact, the U.S stands as the number one violator of Human Rights (HR) and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) agreements.”

Calang said the use of drones is both a human rights and sovereignty of nations issues.

“Aside from clearly being an issue of human rights, the US-led war of terror against the peoples of the world is an aggression against the sovereignty of nations. Drone surveillances and attacks are particularly directed at countries where the US has strategic economic and political interests, and where there is armed resistance,” Calang said. | NewsDesk

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