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Philippine bishops bristle at US Marawi intervention report

Govt denies plan is afoot to allow US airstrikes against Mindanao terrorists

Philippine bishops bristle at US Marawi intervention report
Smoke rises from the city of Marawi after an air strike by Philippine forces against a suspected enemy position. (Photo by Mark Navales)
 
 
ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines

August 10, 2017

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At least three Catholic bishops from the southern Philippines have voiced opposition to the United States conducting air strikes against terrorist targets in Mindanao.

They were reacting to an NBC News report this week, which said the Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the U.S. military to conduct airstrikes on so-called Islamic State positions in the Philippines.

Philippine military and defense officials, however, said there is no need for U.S. air strikes against local terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State in the besieged city of Marawi.

Military chief General Eduardo Ano also denied any such option was being considered, saying that under a military treaty with the U.S. direct military action is only allowed during an actual invasion of the Philippines.

Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi said the conflict in Mindanao "is a war that our country could have easily resolved if only we had took cognizance of the Filipino way of resolving conflicts."

The prelate said "persuasion [and] acceptance of the traditional way of negotiated settlement" could have ended the clashes that are already in their third month.

"As we have seen all other local initiatives had been rejected out right," said Bishop De La Pena.

Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz said there would be no need for the United States to intervene because the conflict in Marawi is a "purely domestic problem."

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel expressed confidence that the country's security forces were capable of dealing with the situation.

He said U.S. military intervention in Marawi would only result in "more violence."

The U.S. government has been training and equipping Filipino forces as part of a mutual defense deal between the two countries.

In the ongoing military operation in Marawi, the Americans have deployed P3 Orion surveillance aircraft

Close to 400,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which started on May 23 when Islamic State-inspired gunmen attacked the city of Marawi. The conflict has already resulted in the death of at least 122 troops, 45 civilians, and 539 suspected terrorists.

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