MANILA, Philippines?An investigative report circulating online said the American military contractor Blackwater was training ?mercenaries? of various nationalities, including Filipinos, at the Subic free port in Olongapo City.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza, however, quickly denied the story.
In a video story posted August 28 on the Russia Today website, American investigative journalist Wayne Madsen claimed Satelles Solutions, a Blackwater subsidiary, was using a five-acre facility in the former United States naval base to train operatives for secret US-backed military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots.
Blackwater, founded by a former US Navy Seal in North Carolina, has been denounced in some US media as being America?s ?private army.? It does jobs for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Interviewed on Russia Today, Madsen asked: ?Who gave them permission? Apparently it?s against the Philippine Constitution to station foreign troops in the country ... someone is running around the Constitution of the Philippines. Obviously this is done with the permission of the president of the Philippines,? Madsen said.
He claimed the country was now a ?major operating base? for the Blackwater subsidiary.
Madsen alleged the Subic facility could train up to 1,000 operatives. He also claimed that other US companies linked to former US Vice President Dick Cheney had also opened a shooting range at the former Clark Air Base.
In 2007, Blackwater denied it was opening a facility in the Philippines. ?We are no longer pursuing a facility in the Philippines,? Anne Tyrrell, a company spokesperson, had said.
Madsen?s report indicates the company went ahead using a subsidiary company.
In a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Arreza denied Blackwater was maintaining any kind of facility in the SBMA.
?There is no facility for any military training by Blackwater or any such company,? Arreza said.
The only facility for any kind of military-style training here is the Philippine National Police Leadership School, he said.
He admitted that Blackwater submitted a proposal to set up a training facility in Subic three years ago.
?But this request never materialized. We want to develop the SBMA for commercial and industrial uses. We felt that the request (of Blackwater) went against our charter.?
He also said he was willing to open the facility to inspection or investigation. ?There are no restrictions here. Anyone can enter the SBMA.?