Bike ride marks RP-US military bases deal rejection-A A +A
Saturday, September 10, 2011
ANGELES CITY -- Anti-bases veterans, activists, environmentalists and cycling clubs started a three-day bike ride in commemoration of the Philippine Senate's rejection of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1991.
Over a hundred cyclists, who joined the bike ride, left Manila Friday as a way to commemorate the Senate’s rejection of RP-US Military Bases Agreement 20 years ago on September 16, 1991.
The bike ride, which began at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila, had a stopover in the former US airbase in Clark Freeport.
It will end in Subic on Sunday, September 11.
"We are recalling with this bike ride not only the historic senate vote against the prolonged stay of the US bases but also to celebrate the decades-long peoples struggle for national sovereignty," Wigberto Tañada, a member of the Magnificent 12, said.
Magnificent 12 is the tag given to the 12 senators who voted against the extension of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.
"The bike tour is also a reminder to the Filipino people that the struggle for national self-determination continues," Tañada said.
The tour retraced the Lakbayan route, named after the massive demonstrations that saw tens of thousands march from Manila to Subic demanding the ouster of the US Bases.
Short programs are planned in key stops where cyclists intend to interact with local communities to share memories of the struggle and spur discussion about current issues related to Philippine foreign policy.
The first stop is in the Bulacan Provincial Capitol in Malolos at lunchtime of September 9.
The riders stayed overnight at the City of San Fernando hall.
Cyclists were welcomed by a people's march on September 10 in Plaza Miranda, Angeles City. The group will proceed to Dinalupihan, Bataan before proceeding to Subic where they will spend the night.
Cyclists will join motorcycle riders and other motorists for a brief program in Subic on September 11.
Cyclists wore common jerseys emblazoned with "US Bases-Free Since 1991?" to signify continuing US military intervention in the country through the Visiting Forces Agreement. The other side of the cyclists' shirts carried the theme "Kasarinlan Ipaglaban!" or "Fight for Sovereignty."
The country's leading cycling groups participated in the bike ride, led by the Firefly Brigade, CycAd, Mandaluyong Cycling Club, Cranksters, Livestrong Cycling Club, Foxbat Cycling Club and the Makati Cycling Club Team.
The youngest cyclist is 12-year old Giovanni Basas, a student of Esteban Abada High School in Sampaloc District, while the most senior cyclist is 69-year old Antonio Danga of Makati. Both are members of the Makati Cycling Club Team.
"If before, America's military bases in Subic and Clark in the Philippines were used to further US military interests, Filipinos can now use the facilities for productive economic activities, recreation and ecotourism initiatives," said Firefly Brigade President Ricky Pineda. "What we enjoy today came at great sacrifice, which should remind young Filipinos to continue the fight for greater freedoms," Pineda said.
The commemorative bike ride seeks to build public focus on a September 16 event that will give recognition to the Magnificent 12 Filipino senators and the countless organizations and individuals who fought over several decades for Philippine sovereignty at great cost, many sacrificing personal wellbeing and, in some cases, lives.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 11, 2011.