Press Release
March 19, 2010

No combat ops for US troops - Villar

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday cautioned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against allowing US troops to be actively involved in combat operations in Philippine territory, particularly Mindanao.

Villar issued the call in the wake of a US military offer to provide a "more focused support" to the AFP in a renewed military offensive against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

"Under no circumstances should the AFP allow US troops to engage in combat operations in Sulu or any Philippine territory, for that matter. Such engagements are not allowed under our laws and existing treaties between RP and US governments," Villar said.

"The AFP must impose this prohibition as vanguard of our democracy," Villar stressed.

Villar was particularly alarmed by reports that the US military would be willing to help in any mission the AFP might require assistance during the Sulu offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.

There are about 200 to 400 US forces throughout Mindanao, depending on the type of support requested by the AFP. They train Filipino soldiers and help gather intelligence information against the terrorist group.

Last year, a Philippine Navy whistleblower, Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, had alleged that US troops had been involved in combat operations with the Philippine military in Mindanao.

Gadian, who was head of Civil Military Operations Task Group of Balikatan in 2007, charged that about 500 US soldiers were assigned in Mindanao as "the first line of defense against the enemy." She added that US troops usually engaged in operations in Mindanao without informing heads of the Philippine military in the area.

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