Latest Stories

Mindanao nun tags US military use of drones ‘killer program’

By , and Julie Alipala

A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas in this 2011 file photo. AP

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—Washington’s drone program was branded “killer program” by a Mindanao-based nuns’ association as it called on the government to reject attempts by the Americans to put up a base in the country.

Sister Noemi Degala, executive secretary of the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (Samin), said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer that in Pakistan alone, under the so-called global war on terror, US drone strikes have killed as many as 3,549 people, 197 of them children.

“This is the fundamental moral issue why the drone program of the United States must be rejected,” she said.

Degala said the program acts as “the prosecutor, judge and executor for and on behalf of a US president and military situated thousands of miles away from the targets.”

“It is also a mockery of international humanitarian laws because it does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in times of armed conflict. In fact, the US is the number one violator of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) agreements,” she said.

Degala said the US government was so drawn to its drone program that the use of unmanned aircraft has become “a new form of idolatry or the idol worship of instrument of death at the expense of people’s lives, lands and human rights.”

“It contradicts the words of Pope Francis opposing instruments of death in our times,” Degala said, adding that the US was now “the calf that demands the world’s absolute obedience.”

In Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar maintained her opposition to the prolonged stay of US forces in the city and decided to skip the ceremonial turnover of command for the US-led Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines as a manifestation of her protest.

US forces have been in the city since 2002 and are deployed there under the Balikatan defense training program.

Such a military rite was usually attended by local government officials in the past in honor of visiting diplomats and foreigners.

Philippine military officials were mum on Salazar’s absence but it did not deter them and US officials – led by Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas – to go on with the affair and witness the assumption of new JSOTFP commander Col. Robert McDowell.

McDowell replaced Col. Mark Miller, who was JSOTFP commander for over three years.

“I expounded to them (US and Filipino military officials) the issue of JSOTFP that has to be defined. Through the years of their presence in Zamboanga, they have not given us their long-term plan and the national government is up again in discussing this issue (of US bases),” Salazar said last Tuesday.

She said she even went as far as asking the US State Department about the presence of American soldiers in the city but she was instead told to “ask this question to the Philippine government.”

Thomas emphasized that there was an agreement between Manila and Washington on the presence of US forces in the country.

“As President Aquino has stated we are working on the Visiting Forces Agreement and the access agreement, we are working on everything with a duly-elected national government,” he said.

Thomas said the US government understood that any agreement has to be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution, that was why “we have people coming here to discuss that.”

He did not directly comment on  Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s and Salazar’s opposition to the use of the country’s airfields by US forces.

Instead, Thomas said, Washington could assure the public  that the stay of US forces here would not violate any law.

“I am not so sure what others may have talked about but I can assure you we would do nothing even not propose anything that would not be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Armed conflict , Drone , Human Rights , Military , Mindanao , US

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Suspected militant, son killed in Thailand’s south
  • Iran mother spares life of son’s killer after campaign
  • Japan to hunt fewer whales in Pacific this season
  • Deal brings no immediate change to eastern Ukraine
  • China says one-fifth of its farmland is polluted
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Marketplace