MANILA–There are no talks with the US govern-ment regarding the use of its armed drones against ISIS-inspired terror groups in the Philippines.
This was confirmed by Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong in a statement Tuesday.
“The DND denies any discussions regarding the use of US drones to strike against Daesh-inspired terrorist groups in the Philippines. The AFP also states that no such discus-sions have occurred at their level,” he noted.
Earlier reports claimed that the US Department of Defense is considering a plan to conduct air strikes against ISIS targets in the country, particularly in Mindanao area.
“The Chief-of-Staff AFP, Gen. Eduardo Año, said that at present such a measure is not within the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty. Direct military actions are only allowed during actual foreign invasion by another state actor. Hence, such a proposition has to undergo a process and an agree-ment must be reached that should have the approval of both the highest officials of our nations,” Andolong emphasized.
The AFP is currently locked in fierce combat with Maute Group terro-rists following a botched attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon and ISIS “emir” in Southeast Asia last May 23.
DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated that no discussions regarding air strikes from whatever plat-forms hitting local targets transpired at his level.
However, both officials expressed their apprecia-tion for the reported desire of the US to help the Phi-lippines fight ISIS-inspired terrorists groups in the country.
Although Philippine-US security relations and counter terrorism efforts are robust, US assistance has been limited to technical assistance, sharing of information and training.
Terrorism has indeed become a global menace that the community of nations must unite against. ASEAN of late has issued strong statements on the matter. PNA