The U.S. is beefing up its military presence in the Philippines, claiming that the Philippines government requested their aid. However, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Sunday he made no such request, raising concern that the U.S. may have an ulterior motive.
By Whitney Webb of Mint Press News
In late May, the Philippines became the first nation in Asia to have one of its cities fall to the terror group Daesh (ISIS) and its affiliates. The southern city of Marawi was overtaken by hundreds of gunmen who took control of multiple landmarks and the majority of the city’s residential areas. In response, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the entire region of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.
While the Philippine Army has been holding its own against the militants, the United States joined the fight on Saturday, sending U.S. special forces to provide “technical assistance.”
The Philippine Army in a statement cited by Reuters asserted that the U.S. had no “boots on the ground” in the fight and is only offering technical assistance to Philippine forces seeking to reclaim Marawi. The U.S. Embassy in Manila has stated that the U.S. offered the support to the Philippines at the request of the Philippines government, though they refused to provide further details on the alleged request.
The Pentagon also confirmed increased U.S. military presence in the Philippines, stating that it is providing Philippine forces with aerial surveillance and targeting, electronic eavesdropping, communications assistance and training. It also stated that 300 to 500 U.S. troops are in the country to “support regular training and activities,” though no further details were given.
But less than a day later, the U.S.’ justification for its increased military presence in the Philippines fell apart, as Duterte said at a press conference on Sunday that he “never approached America” for help and that he was entirely unaware of their presence “until they arrived.” This statement came months after Duterte had ejected the very U.S. special forces that have since returned…