DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte revealed that the US government had asked his permission to use the city’s old airport as an operating base for its drone program.
“The US government wants to use the old airport. I refused. I will not allow them to use our airport for them to launch their drones,” Duterte said Monday during a gathering of some 150 Muslim volunteers who will help in securing the city.
Duterte also shared that when her daughter Sara Duterte was still the mayor, representatives of the US government had also tried to convince her to allow American forces to use the airport for its unmanned aerial vehicles in its campaign against terrorism and insurgency.
“I do not want it. I do not want trouble and killings,” Duterte said.
He said he told the US government there would be more bloodshed if there were drone operators in the city.
“They will only add to the problem,” Duterte said.
In 2011, Duterte said he believed the US was engaged in covert operations against Muslims in Davao City.
He mentioned the case of American Michael Meiring who was injured in an explosion in his hotel room in the city on May 16, 2002.
Investigations showed that the bomb which exploded belonged to Meiring.
While being treated in a hospital under tight security of local police forces, agents believed to be from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation smuggled Meiring out and transported him to the US via Singapore.
Duterte had said that he believed that Meiring and the explosion were connected to the covert operations of the US on the island.
Duterte said he would still be open to talk with the US, but would continue to refuse their request.
Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao, praised Duterte for his stand against foreign intervention.
“We commend and firmly support the decision of the mayor not to allow drone operations in the city. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles/drone is a clear violation of our national sovereignty,” Duazo said.
“No sovereign country will allow such drone activity. The problem with US drones is that they can be used for surveillance and they can be used for actual combat operations. This is due to the proposed access agreement which will allow US troops to be present all over the country including Davao City,” added Duazo.
Duazo said this information shared by Duterte might shed light on the recent bombings in several areas in Mindanao.
“With what has been divulged by the mayor right now, we can now connect and say that the recent bombings have a connection with what the US-Aquino regime is planning. To justify the plan to deploy more US troops especially here in Mindanao,” Duazo said.