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Aguirre: US technical aid to troops in Marawi legal

by Rey G. Panaligan

The Constitution does not ban United States soldiers from providing technical assistance to Philippine troops in the ongoing battle against the Maute Group in Marawi City, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said yesterday.

“What is prohibited under the Constitution is the joining of US troops in actual combat. But sharing of intelligence and equipment is allowed under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” Aguirre said in an interview.

The Justice Secretary cited the constitutional provision under Section 25, Article 18 of the 1987 Constitution which provides: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

Citing an example, Aguirre pointed out the assistance given by the US troops during the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano clash in which 44 police commados sent to capture or kill wanted Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkilfo Abdhir were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

“This assistance is what the US provided also during the Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano operation,” he said.

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