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PH still needs US help in anti-terror campaign

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya assured yesterday that the military will fully support President Duterte’s intention to pursue an independent foreign policy, as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that the country still needs the United States’ assistance to fight terrorism and other external security threats.

At the House Committee on Appropriations’ deliberations on the proposed R178.218-billion budget of Department of National Defense (DND) for 2017, Visaya said the military will not turn its back on President Duterte as its Commander-in-Chief.

“He is our commander-in-chief and we are always behind him,” he said after Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque asked the military’s stand on the President Duterte’s call to pull out US Special Forces from the southern Philippines due to safety and security concerns.

“I am happy that the AFP is solidly behind (him),” Roque said. Roque has filed House Resolution No. 339, commending President Duterte on his intention to pursue an independent foreign policy.

In the same hearing, Lorenzana also thinks that the Philippines should keep its diplomatic ties with the United States to fight terrorism and other new security challenges.

“Sa tingin ko po ay kaya sila andyan dahil wala tayong capabilities sa ginagawa nila ngayon. I think we requested them to stay behind to provide us with the ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)…we don’t have these equipment. But we might be able to do this in the near future. We are procuring the same capabilities like Israel, meron na tayong equipment na pwede na nating gamitin,” he said.

He also refuted President’s statement that US troops are high-value targets of Abu Sayyaf.

“Iyong mga fears ni Presidente na they might be subjected to reprisal by the Muslims is a little bit, ay hindi siguro mangyayari kasi nasa kampo lang sila and they don’t go out of the camp kung mag-isa lang sila, or dapat may kasamang tropa natin or they are also armed,” he said. (CHARISSA M. LUCI)