Esperon contradicts Duterte’s statement: PH troops will go to Gulf states to train, not to fight


President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is willing to send Filipino soldiers to help out Arab states in the event violence starts in the region.

“I said that if you need us, you just call and if you want even, if things break lose, I hope it will not. I pray to God that it will remain fundamentally on the side of the Middle East this time. But there’s a violent activity going on. But we are ready to help you,” Duterte said during a business meeting on April 14 in Manama, Bahrain’s capital.

“If you need troops here, just in the borders for show, just put it in writing that they are here for training, but they can stay here if you want. If you want us to stay for a moment, fine. If you want to deploy us here, we will agree because of our national interest and the lives of the Filipinos,” he added.

In a separate event in Doha on April 15, Duterte once again expressed his willingness to send Filipino troops “to protect and defend Qatar.”

“There are millions of Filipinos here. You can be sure that if you need us, we will come here. Do not worry about discipline,” Duterte said.

“Just like any other Army in the world, they are very disciplined. And they can fight. Fight our national interest here and to protect and defend you,” he added.

President Duterte also gave his assurance to Saudi Arabia King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud about Philippines being a “loyal friend,” all while thanking the king for treating the Filipinos well.

“You (Saudi Arabia) have treated my countrymen good, you have somehow improved the education of the young because of the remittances of the money by the Filipino worker. We owe you a lot, and that is why I said we remain to be your ally. And we are by your (side) whatever it is there that needs an ally to do,” the president said.

However, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. clarified Duterte’s pronouncements. He said that the Philippines does not have any “military operational deployment” to the Middle East.

Esperon said on April 16 at the Malacañang that the assistance the Philippines can give to the Middle East would be “on the basis of training, which we have yet to set up.”

“This will probably take another 6 months to one year. This will be very selective and it will be probably based on specialized courses or training. It’s normal military-to-military cooperation, security cooperation,” Esperon added.

“There’s no such thing as a military operational deployment, although… in this area, in Bahrain, we are part of what we would call the Coalition Maritime Force. We send observers to that,” he further said.

Sources: ( , , )


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