Youth solon wants Congress review of departing US Special Forces troops

“A review of the JSOTF-P operations in the Philippines will reveal the extent of US military intervention in the Philippines.”

By DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat.com

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon is set to file a resolution calling for a “congressional review on the performance and activities” of the 600 US Special Forces under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

The JSOTF-P, which was based in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City since 2001, was formally deactivated on Feb. 24, with a closing ceremony with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“The JSOTF-P is one of the most controversial US military programs in the Philippines,” Ridon said.

“Several whistleblowers, including former Navy officer Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, have revealed that this special US force engage in direct combat in Mindanao. As such, we cannot just let them depart without conducting a review of the program’s performance, undertakings, and their past activities with Philippine forces,” he said.

Ridon will file the resolution on March 2.

“We plan to invite the commander of the JSOTF-P and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg to testify before Congress, for we believe that it is in the interest of the Filipino people to know what exactly these special troops were doing in Mindanao during their 13-year stint there,” Ridon said.

The youth solon said that the involvement of US troops in the bloody Mamasapano clash must first be cleared before they leave. Witnesses reported seeing the body of a “tall, blonde, blue-eyed Caucasian” among the casualties of the Special Action Forces (SAF).

“There are serious allegations of US military intervention – through the JSOTF-P – in the botched Mamasapano operation. The JSOTF-P’s involvement in intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance have been widely reported, yet the US Embassy remained mum,” Ridon said.

The JSOTF-P closing program also gave tribute to 17 fallen US troops, among them 10 Special Operations Aviators and Air Commandos, called the “Wild 42,” who died on Feb. 24, 2002, when their Chinook helicopter crashed in the Bohol Sea “while returning from a mission in Basilan.” Two other US soldiers died on Sept. 29, 2009 in Jolo.

Ridon said the demise of the 17 JSOTF-P troops should also be accounted for. The death of a US troop in combat is a “case of serious infringement of our sovereignty,” he said.

“A review of the JSOTF-P operations in the Philippines will reveal the extent of US military intervention in the Philippines. We cannot let an affront to our national sovereignty slip out of our islands quietly,” Ridon insisted.

The phase-out of the JSTOF-P was announced by the US embassy in 2014. Government critics say that it was in anticipation of the entry and stay of more US troops in “agreed locations” under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).()

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