Bayan Muna lawmaker seeks probe of US forces’ presence in Marawi

June 13, 2017 - 1:48 PM
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A US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft flies over Marawi City. (Rreuters)

MANILA, Philippines — An activist lawmaker has filed a resolution asking the committees on foreign affairs and on national defense of the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the presence and supposed participation of US military personnel in operations against extremist gunmen in Marawi City.

House Resolution No. 1075 authored by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate noted that Molly Koscina, spokesperson of the US embassy in Manila, “confirmed the US involvement in  the Marawi operations” following news reports of a US P-3 Orion surveillance plane flying over Marawi.

Photos of US special forces with surveillance drones inside the military headquarters in Marawi were also obtained by media.

An American soldier with a surveillance drone inside the military headquarters in Marawi City. (News5 photo)

Koscina said US assistance was requested by the Philippines.

However, even as Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, confirmed the US troops’ presence and stressed their participation was “limited to intelligence sharing,” Zarate noted that President Rodrigo Duterte “said that he did not know beforehand that the US military has been helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines fight the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City.”

“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 Ano 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,” Zarate said in calling for a probe.

Citing what he said are questions from “many quarters” about the US presence and participation, Zarate said Congress should dig deeper into the role of the United States government and the Central Intelligence Agency in the reported activities and merger” of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, which he claimed were covertly created by the Americans.

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE RESOLUTION:

Republic of the Philippines

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS

First Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 1075

____________________________________________________

Introduced by Rep. CARLOS ISAGANI ZARATE

____________________________________________________

RESOLUTION

DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DEFENSE TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION AND AS PART OF ITS OVERSIGHT FUNCTION, ON THE SUPPOSED PARTICIPATION OF UNITED STATES FORCES IN THE MARAWI CITY OPERATIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

WHEREAS, on May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, series of 2017, DECLARING A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW AND SUSPENDING THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IN THE WHOLE OF MINDANAO as a result of the violence that erupted in the Islamic City of  Marawi;

WHEREAS, according to President Duterte’s Report to Congress, on May 23, 2017 a government operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon, senior leader of the Abu Sayaff, and Maute Group operational leaders Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, was confronted with armed resistance that escalated into open hostility against the government;

WHEREAS, on same day, the AFP, through its Public Affairs Chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, declared that the situation in Marawi City had stabilized, and that “security forces are in full control of the situation”.  The military even confidently reported that they were merely conducting mopping up operations and surgical strikes on the remaining Abu Sayaff and Maute groups in Marawi City;

WHEREAS, more than two (2) weeks thereafter, however, Martial rule is still implemented in Marawi City and the whole of Mindanao.  Noticeably, US Special Forces  are then seen in  the conflict zone of Marawi, while  US spy assets like the US P3 Orion surveillance plane,  were already being used to supposedly flush out the Maute/ISIS group;

WHEREAS, on June 9,  US Embassy Spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed the US involvement in  the Marawi operations after a TV network  aired a video of the US P3 Orion surveillance plane flying  over Marawi. The US official claimed that the US involvement was “at the request of the Philippines.”

WHEREAS, on June 10, Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, the spokesperson of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, confirmed the presence of these US forces but  claimed that their participation is allegedly “limited to intelligence sharing,”

WHEREAS, on June 11, President Duterte said that he did not know beforehand that the US military has been helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines fight the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City.

WHEREAS, many quarters are questioning the presence of US Special Forces in Marawi City, especially since the AFP is saying that they are just mopping up and the city would be liberated by June 12 or Philippine Independence Day;

WHEREAS, 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 Pres. Duterte’s anti-US rhetoric.  There are also speculations that the US is using the Marawi  incident as a pretext  for expanding and prolonging its so-called “war on terror” campaign in the Philippines;

WHEREAS, Congress should dig deeper into the role of the United States government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the reported activities and merger of their alleged covertly-created terror groups, the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, particularly its link to the US-supported Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which undermine regimes like the Duterte administration, for the geopolitical and economic interests of the American government;

WHEREAS, It is very alarming that the commander in chief himself does not know that his military and security officials like Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Ano 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;

WHEREAS, there were several incidents that US troops were already involved in overt and covert operations in Mindanao, from the 2002 Buyong-buyong Isnijal shooting, to the Michael Meiring  incident in Davao City  and even in the 2015 bungled Mamasapano operations;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defense to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, and as part of its oversight function,  on the supposed involvement of  United States forces in the Marawi City operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines;

Adopted,

 

CARLOS ISAGANI ZARATE

Bayan Muna Party-list