US ‘proudly stands’ with Philippines in war vs IS

Soldiers salute during a flag-raising ceremony at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol in Marawi yesterday. AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The United States “proudly stands” with the Philippines as a longstanding ally and supports the government’s operations against the Islamic State (IS)-aligned Maute militants in Marawi City.

This was the message of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the celebration of the 119th Philippine Independence Day.

“The United States proudly stands with the Philippines as a longstanding ally, especially as the country confronts challenges associated with terrorism and extremism, including recent attacks in Marawi City and elsewhere,” Tillerson said.

“On behalf of President Trump and the American people, congratulations and best wishes to the people of the Republic of the Philippines as you commemorate your 119th Independence Day on June 12,” he said.

“We admire the resilience and strength of Filipino people in battling adversity and building a more prosperous and secure future,” Tillerson added.

The secretary said the US honors “the enduring US-Philippine alliance, built on our shared democratic values, growing commerce and strong people-to-people ties.”

US Ambassador Sung Kim, meanwhile, said the Philippine government knew of Washington’s military assistance in Marawi City, despite President Duterte’s claim that he was unaware of the arrangement.

When asked about the presence of American troops in Marawi, Kim said it was part of the continued US effort to provide counterterrorism support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We have clearly stated already that we will continue our cooperation and support for the AFP, and I don’t think it would be appropriate to go into the technical details of what we’re providing,” Kim said at the 119th Independence Day ceremony held in Rizal Park.

While Kim did not divulge details of the assistance, he maintained that the Philippine government knew of the arrangement.

“All I can say is this is a cooperation that has continued for some time now, it’s a cooperation that’s appreciated by the Philippine military and it’s a cooperation that’s continued with the knowledge of the Philippine government and the AFP,” the ambassador said.

After the AFP confirmed getting technical assistance from the US in the campaign against Maute militants, President Duterte said he did not seek help from the US, but was nevertheless thankful for the assistance.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte had allowed the defense department and the AFP to decide on matters pertaining to martial law.

He noted that General Order No. 1, dated May 23, designated the defense secretary as martial law administrator and the AFP chief as the martial law implementor.

The designated officials could “undertake all measures to prevent and suppress all acts of rebellion and lawless violence, including seeking technical assistance from the United States, within the limits prescribed by the Constitution,” Abella said.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after Maute militants launched a series of attacks in Marawi City. A total of 191 terrorists, 58 government troopers and 20 civilians have died since the clashes began last month.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano said the US is not the AFP’s only source of intelligence information.

“Now that the President has been going all over the world, asking that when it comes to terrorists, extremist groups, everyone should share intelligence. Actually, the intelligence is not only between us and the US, we’re also relying on other friends to share intelligence,” Cayetano said.

“That’s the decision of the chief of staff… But as far as day-to-day technical advice goes, that’s part of the cooperation agreements even beyond the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) and EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), and even with some of our friends – not treaty allies, but friends – we have ongoing sharing of intelligence and information,” he added.

Image result for Lu Kang, foreign ministry spokesman, photos
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang (File photo)

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing that China supports the Philippines’ anti-terrorism operations against Islamist militants.

“Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. China understands and firmly supports Duterte’s leadership and its government in fighting terrorism,” Lu said.

“We support these antiterrorism operations,” he added. – Janie Cameron, AFP



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One Response to “US ‘proudly stands’ with Philippines in war vs IS”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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