U.S. did not break PHL law in Mamasapano operations — DFA

By on March 23, 2015

Encounter site in Mamasapano, Maguindanao (screenshot from ABS-CBN News footage)
Encounter site in Mamasapano, Maguindanao (screenshot from ABS-CBN News footage)

MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs said American personnel involved in the operation in Mamasapano that killed a wanted Malaysian terrorist did not violate Philippine laws.

Citing a Philippine National Police investigation report that was released last week, the DFA said: “We can conclude from these findings that U.S. involvement in this operation did not violate any agreement or law.”

“The BOI found that there were no armed U.S. troops engaged in combat in the area of operations,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said at a press briefing this week.

The January 25 raid on the hideout of Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano town, however, resulted in the death of 44 PNP Special Action Force troopers after coming under intense gun battle with Muslim rebels in the area. The incident is said to be the worst single-day combat loss for Philippine troops in recent memory.

Jose maintained that existing arrangements between the Philippines and the U.S. allow American forces to serve in an “advisory and assistance capacities,” particularly on information-sharing, equipment provision, training and casualty evacuation.

“Under the same arrangements the only constitutional restriction is that U.S. forces may not engage in combat operations,” he said.

Jose emphasized that the types and extent of U.S. activities in connection with the operation, called Oplan Exodus, as indicated in the PNP-Board of Inquiry, fall within the ambit of existing bilateral agreements, such as the Mutual Defense Board, Security Engagement Board and the Visiting Forces Agreement.