PH: No discussions with US on airstrikes vs ISIS
The possibility of the United States conducting airstrikes against the ISIS in the Philippines has not been discussed, the Philippine government said on Tuesday.
“This was not taken up during the meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and US Sec. of State Rex Tillerson,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Tillerson is in Manila for the Asean Regional Forum, the region’s biggest security forum. He also paid a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Monday.
A news report of NBC News said the Pentagon is considering a plan that will allow US forces to conduct airstrikes to fight the ISIS in the Philippines by using armed drones.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense also denied any discussion regarding the use of US drones against ISIS-inspired militants.
“Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated that no discussions regarding airstrikes from whatever platforms hitting local targets transpired at his level,” Defense spokesperson Dir. Arsenio Andolong said.
AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año, in a separate statement, said that there is no formal notice or offer from the US military regarding the airstrikes, adding that such proposition has to undergo a process.
“A covenant must be had between the commanders-in-chief of both nations before that option may be adopted,” he said.
There is also no existing provision of the Mutual Defense Treaty for this situation. “Direct military actions may only be allowed during the actual invasion of the Philippines by another state actor,” he said.
Both Lorenzana and Año have expressed appreciation on the reported plans to help the Philippines, Andolong said.
He said that US assistance in the ongoing gun battle between government forces and ISIS-linked Maute terrorist group are limited to technical assistance, sharing of information and training. JE
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