A militant lawmaker condemned and called for an investigation of the alleged participation of US troops in the military operations against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao province.
On Saturday, US forces were seen providing medical assistance to wounded government troops and two journalists who were hurt in a bomb attack in Datu Saudi-Ampatuan town.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Visiting Forces Agreement does not cover participation in any form of activities inside a military camp during an ongoing massive operation.
“I don’t think it’s covered. In the first place, why are they there in a combat zone? We have to remember that the US involvement in the Vietnam War also started from supposedly providing so-called ‘humanitarian’ assistance, a clear euphemism for low-intensity intervention,” he said.
Zarate said this humanitarian assistance would only justify and strengthen the “maneuvers” of the US government for a more permanent presence in the country.
“The US is now clearly actively involving itself in our internal affairs, in violation of our Constitution. This interventionist policy is highly condemnable as this will clearly escalate, especially with the so-called US increased rotational presence. The defense and foreign departments should explain why they allowed this transgression of our sovereignty,” Zarate added.
The lawmaker called on Congress to immediately conduct an inquiry into the recent participation of US forces in Maguindanao.
“As part of its oversight functions, I think Congress should also inquire into US troops involvement in the Maguindanao clashes,” Zarate said.
For BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama, the participation of foreign troops in the tension in Mindanao would only further enrage the Bangsamoro people.
“America is always meddling with the internal affairs of other countries. We believe that even the United Nations is afraid to reprimand America,” Mama said.
Mama said they were expecting that the Philippine government would seek the help of the United States.
“We knew that if the Philippine government is having a hard time in fighting here in Mindanao they would ask America for help. But we are not afraid. If we see these American soldiers out there in the field, we will not think twice about fighting and driving them away,” Mama said.