Americans in Mamasapano? Palace points to terrorism

Natashya Gutierrez
Americans in Mamasapano? Palace points to terrorism
Malacañang does not answer the question about American involvement, but says transnational cooperation is acceptable when dealing with transnational crimes such as terrorism

MANILA, Philippines – Were Americans involved in the operation against top terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman that killed 44 elite cops?

Malacañang did not answer the question but asked that the operation be taken in the context of terrorism being a transnational crime.

“The capture of Marwan and other suspected terrorists, because this is related to terrorism, we need to understand the fact that terrorism is a transnational crime and transnational crime involves transnational cooperation that is acceptable not just between the United States and the Philippines,” Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said on Tuesday, February 17.

He added, “But in the aspect of performing the operation, it is also clear in our laws that there should not be foreign participation and foreign intervention. So (their role) should be clarified in ongoing probes (on the incident).”

In an earlier report on Rappler, a former Special Force soldier clarified, “We (Americans) are allowed to provide support, intelligence, command and control support, mentoring, but we can’t be involved in direct action.” This Philippine-US military partnership dates back to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

Coloma also said it is best to wait for the investigations to be completed to know the real truth about the participation of the United States. His statements come after reports that a US soldier were among those who died in the operation, a claim the US embassy in Manila has denied.

The US embassy also said the US only helped in evacuating the casualties at the request of the military, after the Maguindanao firefight.

Currently, the Senate is investigating the events that transpired on January 25, when some 392 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos entered Mamasapano town, a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to serve arrest warrants to top terrorists Marwan and Usman. 

The operation resulted in a bloody clash between SAF troopers and rebel forces that claimed at least 68 lives, including 44 SAF troopers. The MILF blames this on the SAF team’s failure to coordinate with them, as provided in its agreement with the government on operations in known MILF territories. 

The government also awaits the results of the Philippine National Police-organized Board of Inquiry organized, which is looking into the incident. – Rappler.com

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