AFP: Duterte’s call for US special forces to leave Mindanao shows he cares for their safety

  • AFP issued statement on president’s call for US troops in Mindanao to leave
  • Spokesman said Duterte’s announcement shows his concern for the Americans’ safety
  • He also assured the public that PH-US ties remain rock solid despite announcement

MANILA, Philippines – Finally issuing a statement on President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for US special forces to leave Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said their commander-in-chief’s statement shows his concern for the Americans’ safety.

“We take due notice of the pronouncement of the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte expressing his concern of the safety of US Servicemen in Mindanao,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Pursuant to the same statement, he desires that our American counterparts should be eased from harm’s way.”

Padilla said the areas where the Americans are at risk the most include places like Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu “where intense focused military operations combating terrorism are ongoing.”

Padilla added that they have yet to receive any instructions pertaining to Duterte’s announcement.

“We are yet to receive any specific directive as to how this pronouncement will be effected. We understand that the implementation of the said pronouncement is the subject of deliberations by concerned departments like DND and DFA to mention some,” he said.

At the same time, Padilla assured the public that ongoing relations with the Americans remain strong.

“We assure our people and allies that PH-US defense relations remain rock solid. Activities lined up for the year continue without interruption. Consultative planning activities for 2017 and beyond likewise remain on track,” he said.

Duterte earlier said he wants the Americans to leave Mindanao to avoid becoming hostages of the Abu Sayyaf and to prevent more tensions from breaking out.