February 7, 2012
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan of Davao City wants a probe on what she described as “extensive and intensive intrusion of the US military in AFP operations” in the country.
“If these reports are true, then US troops are participating in and conducting operations beyond what is allowed in the Visiting Forces Agreement and directly transgress our sovereignty. More importantly, their participation in these operations is a potential magnet for the Philippines’ participation in a brewing US-instigated regional conflict,” she said.
Two suspected leaders of the Jemaah Islamiyah and an Abu Sayyaf leader were among 15 alleged terrorists killed in an air strike at 3 a.m. in Parang, Sulu on February 2.
Ilagan quoted Zamboanga-based Mindanao Examiner as saying the airstrike was believed “US-led” and that an unmanned US drone helped track down the targets.
Asked to comment on Ilagan’s statement, Tina Malone, Press and Information Officer of the US Embassy in Manila told MindaNews that the US military “does not participate in any operational actions in the Philippines, and serves solely in an advisory and support capacity at the request of the Philippine Armed Forces.”
“The presence of US troops and their direct combat participation has long been reported in Mindanao and has resulted in gross violations. These include the massacre in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu which resulted to the death of eight civilians and the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002. We reiterate our call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and an end to US military intervention,” Ilagan said.
The Washington Post reported on January 26 that a delegation from the Philippines was engaged in bilateral talks in Washington to negotiate the expansion of the American military presence in the country.
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