JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Sunday said there is nothing wrong with United States extending assistance in the government’s ongoing battle against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.
Aguirre stressed that the US forces are only providing technical assistance to Filipino troops, which is allowed under the law.
“What is prohibited under the Constitution is the joining of US troops in actual combat. But sharing of intelligence and equipment is allowed under the Edca [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement],” he said.
Article 18, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution provides: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate, and when Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
Aguirre cited as precedent the assistance given by the US troops during the Mamasapano clash on Jan.25, 2015 where 44 elite police commados sent to capture or kill wanted Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkilfo Abdhir were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamis Freedom Fighters.
“This assistance is what the US provided also during the Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano operation,” he said.
Earlier, US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed that American forces are providing technical assistance—not boots on the ground—to Filipino soldiers fighting Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines also admitted getting technical support from the US.
Koscina said the US special operations forces have been granting request for assistance from the Philippine government for many years.
The confirmation was made after a US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft was spotted flying over Marawi last June 9.