No barhopping for GIs here for Edca
ZAMBOANGA CITY—US troops here under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) will be confined to camp when not training with their Filipino allies, according to the chief of the Western Mindanao Command headquartered in this city.
Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo de la Cruz, Westmincom commander, said he had prohibited the American servicemen, whose numbers he would not divulge, from venturing outside the camp, especially for recreational purposes.
This means, De la Cruz said, they cannot go to bars or other places to unwind. If they want to relax, they could do it in the Westmincom camp.
“They will just stay here, to train our troops,” he said of the Americans who are mostly medic and first aid personnel.
De la Cruz said the ban was for the safety and security of both the American and Filipino forces, and for which reason they could not go to Basilan or Sulu to conduct training.
“We will bring our troops here. I don’t want the focus of our operations affected just because of on-site training,” he said, adding that the troops in the provinces were preoccupied with operations against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
De la Cruz said the only time the US forces would be allowed to venture out of the camp is when they conduct marksmanship training in, for example, Barangay Cabatangan and when they hold civil-military humanitarian operations.
Last year, Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was found guilty of homicide and sentenced to 10 years in prison in the killing of Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City.
The case drew vehement reaction to the presence, albeit temporarily, of US troops in the Philippines.
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