MARAWI CITY, Philippines — The role of the United States Special Forces in Marawi fighting is not a big deal, a military official here said Tuesday.
In a press briefing at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol, Philippine Army spokesman of the 1st Infantry Division, Lt. Col Jo-ar Herrera said the US troops have no involvement in tactical operations.
“Hindi yan big deal yung presence ng US, actually wala nga talagang involvement in terms of the tactical aspect (The presence of the US troops is not a big deal, they actually have no involvement in tactical aspect),” Herrera said.
The participation of US troops in the government’s operations in Marawi has been criticized by several groups.
Progressive lawmakers in the House of Congress are pushing for a probe on the presence of the US troops in the operations in Marawi City.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate filed on Tuesday House Resolution 1075 directing the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on National Defense to conduct an inquiry on the supposed participation of the US forces in Marawi City.
In a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City last Sunday, June 11, Lt. Col. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that the presence of the US troops is not connected to the Marawi crisis.
He said under the Mutual Defense Treaty, signed by both countries in 1951, the US and the Philippines have what they call “Agreed to Actions” activities.
“(That’s) more than 200 plus activities whole year round. Even the technical assistance and the training which they provide is part of the ATA activities the whole year,” Año said.
“Nagkataon lang na meron tayong Marawi incident ngayon (It just so happened that there is an ongoing incident in Marawi),” he added.
Año also said that the flying of the P-3 Orion spy plane is part of the activities all over the country including in the West Philippine Sea.
But Año admitted that it will provide assistance to government troops. He said pictures taken by the US forces can be used by Filipino military officials.
His statement is seemingly contradicted by Herrera who said that the intelligence shared by the US troops cannot be used as the Philippine Army has its own process.
“Baka isipin niyo ginagamit sila, hindi sila ginagamit (You might think that they are being used, but they’re not),” he said, adding that the operations is “all-Filipino.”
On June 11, President Rodrigo Duterte said in an interview that he was not aware of the US forces’ presence in Marawi City.
Zarate said “it is very alarming that the commander in chief himself does not know that his military and security officials have already asked assistance from a country that he has continually hit as a hypocrite and is looking out only for its own self-interest.”
The Mindanao-based official also cited the US troops’ involvement in overt and covert operations in Mindanao. (davaotoday.com)AFP, duterte, EDCA, Marawi, philippines, US troops