Duterte says he did not ask US support after US Embassy says PH government requested for assistance

President Rodrigo Duterte said on June 11 that he did not ask Washington for support to put an end to Marawi siege after the US Embassy revealed that that they provided technical support “at the request of the government of the Philippines.”
On June 9, US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed that the US forces are giving the Philippine military technical assistance since late May to free Marawi City from the Maute terror group. This confirmation came after a television network showed a US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft flying over Marawi City on Friday.

“At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operation forces are assisting the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) with ongoing operations in Marawi. The US non-combat support helps AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute arnd ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) militants,” Koscina told the Philippine Star in an email in the evening of June 9.

The AFP also confirmed getting technical support from the Americans.

Koscina added that the US special operations forces have been assisting the Philippines, upon its request, for many years.
“As we have with previous administrations, we routinely consult with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration’s counterterrorism efforts,” she added.

She emphasized how the US is “a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues.”

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla admitted to getting US technical assistance but gave no further details.

About rumors that some people have spotted American soldiers on the ground, Padilla told ANC the soldiers have been in Zamboanga for quite some time.

“The same (technical) assistance was requested by ground commanders to be provided to them on the ground in Marawi and this does not depart from the earlier arrangement that we have had with them in Western Mindanao Command for the areas of Jolo, Tawi-tawi, Basilan, and nearby areas. So I really don’t understand why there’s so much hype, why there’s so much attention being given to this, where in fact this is an existing arrangement, something that we have requested only to be deployed in Marawi  because there is an ongoing fight. Had we had these capabilities, we would not have requested,” Padilla said.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, another AFP spokesperson, also confirmed it but clarified that the Americans “are not fighting. They are just providing technical support.”

However, President Duterte said on Sunday emphasized that he was not the one who asked the US for help in Marawi City.

“I never approached any American to say, ‘Tumulong kayo.’ Maski wala man sila tulong. Siguro mayroon,” Duterte told the media at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City, after pinning medals on wounded soldiers who fought in Marawi.

“Nagpapasalamat na rin ako. Nandiyan nay an,” he said.

Of the assistance received from the US military, Duterte said that he was not “aware” of it.

“I am not aware of that, but under Martial Law, I gave the power to the defense department,” he said.

Duterte even said during his speech in Cagayan de Oro City that American soldiers have been helping in the fight against the terrorists, but the Department of Defense later told the media during a press briefing that not one American soldier was involved in the ground combat.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command chief, said that Marawi operations were “basically all-Filipino.”

“The Americans assist us on the technical aspect. For example, if we want maps that are highly elaborate, we can ask from them. But in operational matters, we’re the ones doing these, no Americans involved,” Galvez said.

On Monday, June 12, the US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim declined to react to Duterte’s claim that he did not ask the US for help.

“I think we have already indicated that we have continued to provide counter-terrorism support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and that effort continues,” he said in an ambush interview during the 119th Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park in Manila.

“We have stated clearly that we will continue our cooperation and support for the AFP, and I don’t think it would be appropriate to go into the technical details of what we’re providing,” he added.

Pressed on who requested for assistance, Kim said, “Look, I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into details. All I can say is this is a cooperation that has continued for some time now, it’s a cooperation that’s appreciated by the Philippines military and it’s a cooperation that’s continued with the knowledge of the Philippines government and the AFP.”

While Duterte has been critical of the US government and its former President Barack Obama because of concerns over his war against drugs, Kim said that the US government will continue to support the Philippines, especially the military.

“I do think it’s important to note that this cooperation has continued throughout, across different administrations in the Philippines,” he said.

President Duterte said that the US President Donald Trump is “his friend.”

Duterte has declared martial law over the entire region of Mindanao since May 23 after the fighting erupted between the government forces and the Maute Group.

Sources: ( , , )

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