Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday refuted President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that US troops are high-value targets of terrorists in Mindanao.
During the House of Representatives appropriations committee hearing the Department of National Defense’s (DND) proposed P178.2 billion budget in 2017, Lorenzana said US forces in Mindanao, where they help Filipino troops on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance , were equipped enough to protect themselves from bandit groups.
Duterte had called for the pull-out of American troops in Mindanao warning that they may be subjected to reprisal by the Moro given the island region’s history of American brutalities during the 1900’s pacification campaign.
“ Yung mga fears ni Presidente that they night be subjected to reprisal of the Muslims, hindi naman siguro mangyayari yun,” Lorenzana said.
(The President’s fears that they might be subjected to reprisal of the Muslims, that seems improbable.)
He added that US troops were only based in military camps, and when they go out to Manila or for vacations they are usually well-armed.
“Nasa kampo lang sila (They just stay in the camps). They won’t go out of their camps mag-isa lang sila (They won’t leave their camps alone), or they’re also armed,” Lorenzana said.
“Let’s remember, these people are also combatants. They are not civilians subject to kidnapping by terrorists,” he added. CDG