By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, Sept. 12 (PNA) -– President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that United States military forces have to leave Mindanao to prevent being targeted by kidnap-for-ransom groups, particularly the Abu Sayyaf.
”I do not want a rift with America, but they have to go. The Americans, they (bandits) will really kill them. They will get ransom and they will kill (hostages),” President Duterte said in his speech during the oath-taking of his 43 new appointees in Malacañang.
”So those (US) special forces, they have to go. There are many white there. They have to go,” he added.
President Duterte said he was supposed to raise the issue when he attended the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Laos.
”But I did not speak about it out of respect,” Duterte, the country’s first president from Mindanao, said.
Recently, the Philippine government increased its military presence to almost 10,000 troops in Sulu to crush the Abu Sayyaf.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella released a media statement to clarify President Duterte’s call for the US forces to leave Mindanao.
”The statement reflects PRRD’s (President Duterte’s) new direction towards coursing an independent foreign policy. He has made reference to the unrecognized, unrepented and un-atoned for massacre at Bud Dajo in Sulu by the Americans, hence our continued connection with West is the real reason for the ‘Islamic’ threat in Mindanao,” Abella said.
”The American silence on the matter lacks congruence with its ‘moral’ position, in the light of actions taken in the past by the Germans who confessed and made atonement for the Holocaust, and Japan which made reparations for the atrocities it perpetrated among the peoples they conquered. Mr. Duterte is on morally firm ground by breaking up walls that cover dark corners in US-RP relations,” he added.