Palace denies PH troops will fight in Gulf states
DOHA, Qatar – Malacañang on Sunday, April 16, said Philippine troops will not fight in the Gulf states despite President Rodrigo Duterte's promise that the Philippines can send troops to the Middle East if needed.
Explaining the form of assistance to be extended by the Philippines, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said, "It would be on the basis of training, which we have yet to set up."
"This will probably take another 6 months to one year. This will be very selective and it will be probably based on specialized courses or training," Esperon added.
"There's no such thing as a military operational deployment, although… in this area, in Bahrain, we are part of what we would call the Coalition Maritime Force. We send observers to that," he also said.
Esperon explained that "defending" can mean many things, such as an exchange of information.
The National Security Adviser issued this clarification after Duterte on Friday, April 14, said the Philippines is ready to send troops to Bahrain if the oil-rich kingdom comes under attack.
In a speech before Bahraini businessmen, Duterte recounted telling Bahrain: "I said that if you need us, you just call. And if you want even, if things break loose – I pray to God that it will remain fundamentally on the side of the Middle East, peaceful – but if there's a violent activity going on, we will be ready to help you."
"I'm willing to send you one battalion, one regiment, one division to protect you. Just say the word. And if the other countries say, 'What are you doing?’ I'll say, 'It is in our national interest,'" he said.
Duterte on Sunday is capping his 3-country trip to the Middle East that aims to boost ties with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, and to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). – Rappler.com