MANILA — The Department of Justice on Sunday said the gesture of US troops providing technical assistance to Philippine soldiers in the ongoing clashes in Marawi City is allowed under the law.
“What is prohibited under the Constitution is the joining of US troops in actual combat. But sharing of intelligence and equipment is allowed under the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement),” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said.
Article 18, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution provides: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
“This assistance is what the US provided also during the Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano operation,” he recalled.
The DOJ Chief cited as precedent the assistance given by the US troops during the Mamasapano clash on Jan.25, 2015 where 44 elite police commados sent to capture or kill wanted Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkilfo Abdhir were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamis Freedom Fighters.
Earlier, US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed that American forces are providing technical assistance – not boots on the ground – to Filipino soldiers fighting Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also admitted getting technical support from the US.
As of this posting, government forces killed in the four weeks of fighting is now at 58 with 206 Maute Group neutralized and 26 civilians executed since the conflict started last May 23.