Solon pushes for probe on US troops’ role in Marawi operations

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlo Zarate speaks in front of the Chinese consulate on June 12, 2017 (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate speaks in front of the Chinese consulate on June 12, 2017 (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

“Congress should dig deeper into the role of the US government and the CIA in the reported activities.”

By DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat

MANILA – Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate filed a resolution at the House of Representatives today, June 13, seeking an inquiry on the reported participation of US forces in the ongoing military operations to flush out the Maute armed group in Marawi City.

Zarate filed House resolution 1075 directing the House committees on foreign affairs and on national defense to conduct a probe in aid of legislation on the US troops’ role, amid suspicions of the US government’s overstepping in the operations.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), US troops are not allowed to join combat operations. Aside from suspicions of military participation, Zarate raised the question of US foreign intervention to justify its presence in the country as part of its War on Terror campaign.

“Concerned sectors are asking if the US knew beforehand that there would be a Maute/Isis attack but allowed it to happen as payback for President Duterte’s anti-US rhetoric,” Zarate said in the resolution.

Following broadcast media reports and sightings of an American P3 Orion surveillance plane flying over Marawi and other parts of Mindanao, the US embassy on June 9 confirmed that they are giving assistance at the request of the Philippine government. On June 10, Phil. Army’s 1st Infantry Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said the Americans’ role is limited to “intelligence-sharing” and technical support.

President Duterte said he was not informed of the US forces participation, but said it was appreciated. Ironically, early into his term, Duterte has lambasted the US for its war of aggression and intervention as seen in world and Philippine history.

“It is very alarming that the commander-in-chief himself does not know that his military and security officials like Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Armed Forces chief-of-staff Eduardo Año have already asked assistance from a country that he has continually hit as a hypocrite and is only looking out for its own self-interest,” read Zarate’s resolution.

“Congress should dig deeper into the role of the US government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the reported activities,” it said.

Some 100 US Special Forces remain on rotational shift under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) based inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters of the Armed Forces in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. The JSOTF-P, which used to be comprised of some 600 US Special Forces, was formally deactivated in February 2015.

‘Militarists making US lackey out of Duterte’

Meanwhile, Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao called on Duterte to “stand his ground” in the face of efforts by his Cabinet officials to undermine his authority amid the Marawi crisis.
After declaring martial law in Mindanao on May 23, Duterte appointed Lorenzana as martial law administrator and Año as implementor. The government has also practically pulled out of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as it insisted on the signing of a bilateral ceasefire ahead of the Comprehensive Agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER).

“In a matter of weeks, the president literally threw out his platform for peace, democratic rule and independent foreign policy, and all these were due to the ‘recommendations’ of Defense secretary Lorenzana,” Casilao said in a statement.

Casilao said Lorenzana has made the President “eat his words, an idiot in front of the whole country, as his talk do’t walk, and essentially erodes his integrity, and the people’s trust and confidence.” ()

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