Koko says US support to PH military ‘presumed constitutional’
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III saw nothing wrong with the United States helping the Philippine troops against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, saying it must be presumed to be constitutional unless there is a case against it.
“The Philippine military has in place numerous agreements with the US military. They can do things under these agreements for as long as they are not against our constitution,” Pimentel, an administration ally, said in a text message on Monday.
He pointed out that under the terms of the Constitution, receiving technical and logistical support from the US military “is not prohibited.”
“Hence, unless there is a case decision to the contrary, (the support) must be presumed to be constitutional,” Pimentel added.
Senator Gringo Honasan said any technical and intelligence support from the US are provided for under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the US and the Philippines.
“Basta’t walang tropa ang US na engaged sa actual combat,” Honasan, a former army colonel, said in a separate text message.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said there was nothing unusual with the US providing support to the Philippine troops against the Maute group, saying the Americans had been doing this even before.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an opposition member, also welcomed the US’ help and even advised President Rodrigo Duterte, who has criticized the Americans, to “just swallow his pride and be grateful about it.”
“The assistance provided by the US forces in the current conflict in Marawi is a welcome development. Our ground troops could avail of accurate tactical intel for a more effective operation, which would also help minimize government casualties,” Trillanes said in another statement.
“Duterte should just swallow his pride and be grateful about it,” the senator added.
Duterte earlier said he was not aware that the American troops had been helping the armed forces fight the terrorist group in Marawi City.
“I am not aware of that, but under Martial Law, I gave the power to the defense department,” the President said on Sunday. JPV
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