Philippine President Wants US Special Operations Troops to Leave His Country


Posted on: September 12th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he wants the small number of U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines to leave the country.

In 2002, the U.S. began a mission on the southern island of Mindanao to support Philippine forces fighting the al-Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group. The troops were sent to the Philippines as part of the U.S.’s global fight against terrorism known as Operation Enduring Freedom.

At its height, the mission numbered as many as 600 troops, but was formally ended in February 2015. However, a small contingent of American advisers, numbering dozens of troops, was left behind to provide logistics and support to Philippine forces.

On Monday, Duterte said in a speech that the American military presence on Mindanao was more of a negative than a positive.

“The special forces, they have to go,” said Duterte. “They have to go in Mindanao, there are many whites there, they have to go.”

Duterte added: “I do not want a rift with America, but they have to go.”

U.S. officials said they were aware of Duterte’s comments, but that no formal request had been made for the American force to leave the island. One official said the U.S. military would need to consult with its Philippine counterparts to discuss any future action.

Earlier this year, before Duterte became president in June, the Pentagon announced agreements with the Philippines that will allow for more frequent rotations of American troops and joint sea and air patrols with Philippine forces in the South China Sea. The announcements were seen as a way of checking China’s territorial claims in those disputed waters, which also include claims on reefs and waters belonging to the Philippines.

But Duterte said during his presidential campaign that he would seek to scale back the relationship with the U.S. in the region.

One U.S. official said Monday that Duterte’s comments appear to be specifically about the small number of American advisers in the Philippines and do not affect the broader agreements announced earlier this year.

Before becoming president on June 30, Duterte was the long-time mayor of the city of Davao on the island of Mindanao. He won the presidential election on a platform to eliminate the violence associated with the Philippines’ drug trade, much as he had done in Davao.

Last week, Duterte made international headlines when a scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama in China was canceled after he used the term “son of a b—-” when he said he would not accept criticism from Obama of human rights violations associated with the crackdown on drugs. According to Philippine National Police, more than 2,800 Filipinos allegedly associated with drug dealing or drug use have been killed by police or vigilantes.

Later that week, Obama and Duterte met briefly on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Laos.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Philippine President Wants US Special Operations Troops to Leave His Country


Posted on: September 12th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he wants the small number of U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines to leave the country.

In 2002, the U.S. began a mission on the southern island of Mindanao to support Philippine forces fighting the al-Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group. The troops were sent to the Philippines as part of the U.S.’s global fight against terrorism known as Operation Enduring Freedom.

At its height, the mission numbered as many as 600 troops, but was formally ended in February 2015. However, a small contingent of American advisers, numbering dozens of troops, was left behind to provide logistics and support to Philippine forces.

On Monday, Duterte said in a speech that the American military presence on Mindanao was more of a negative than a positive.

“The special forces, they have to go,” said Duterte. “They have to go in Mindanao, there are many whites there, they have to go.”

Duterte added: “I do not want a rift with America, but they have to go.”

U.S. officials said they were aware of Duterte’s comments, but that no formal request had been made for the American force to leave the island. One official said the U.S. military would need to consult with its Philippine counterparts to discuss any future action.

Earlier this year, before Duterte became president in June, the Pentagon announced agreements with the Philippines that will allow for more frequent rotations of American troops and joint sea and air patrols with Philippine forces in the South China Sea. The announcements were seen as a way of checking China’s territorial claims in those disputed waters, which also include claims on reefs and waters belonging to the Philippines.

But Duterte said during his presidential campaign that he would seek to scale back the relationship with the U.S. in the region.

One U.S. official said Monday that Duterte’s comments appear to be specifically about the small number of American advisers in the Philippines and do not affect the broader agreements announced earlier this year.

Before becoming president on June 30, Duterte was the long-time mayor of the city of Davao on the island of Mindanao. He won the presidential election on a platform to eliminate the violence associated with the Philippines’ drug trade, much as he had done in Davao.

Last week, Duterte made international headlines when a scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama in China was canceled after he used the term “son of a b—-” when he said he would not accept criticism from Obama of human rights violations associated with the crackdown on drugs. According to Philippine National Police, more than 2,800 Filipinos allegedly associated with drug dealing or drug use have been killed by police or vigilantes.

Later that week, Obama and Duterte met briefly on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Laos.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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