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Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 at 8:45 AM
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The Philippine government will welcome US counterinsurgency assistance against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said on Thursday.
Ermita hinted at growing US involvement in the Philippines’ internal security affairs while discussing the coming joint Balikatan war games in Jolo. Interviewed after his sendoff of President Arroyo, who left Thursday morning for Davos, Switzerland, Ermita said the Chief Executive is glad that both counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns are “moving forward, very smoothly.”
RP wants US help in routing communists
By Sam Mediavilla, Reporter
Manila--- The Philippine government will welcome US counterinsurgency assistance against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said on Thursday.
Ermita hinted at growing US involvement in the Philippines’ internal security affairs while discussing the coming joint Balikatan war games in Jolo.
Interviewed after his sendoff of President Arroyo, who left Thursday morning for Davos, Switzerland, Ermita said the Chief Executive is glad that both counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns are “moving forward, very smoothly.”
The executive secretary said the recent counterterrorism successes by the Armed Forces has pleased the Americans so much that they have hinted at a possible personal call of congratulations from US President George W. Bush.
Ermita said the call is expected during President Ar royo’s Davos visit. He did not say where the announcement came from.
US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes and US Ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney were guests Wednesday night at a Malacañang dinner honoring troops that killed Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani.
Hughes on Thursday insisted American troops did not play a combat role in the Philippines’ successful raid on Islamic militants in the south.
“We are not engaged in combat operations,” said Hughes, a key adviser to US President George W. Bush, as she visited Jolo island a week after Filipino troops announced they had killed the group’s top two leaders, Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Solaiman.
She said the two governments were “cooperating together to try to weed out the forces that threaten violence and threaten to terrorize.
“We want to partner with the people of the Philippines in a way that would help them stop the terrorists from threatening peace and stability,” Hughes added.
Hughes described the US involvement in the Philippines as “diplomacy of peace,” adding, “the things that we are doing are concrete ways to help people have better lives,” after inspecting school buildings and computer units provided by the US government.
A team of US military advisers has been operating in Jolo since last year, when the Philippine military launched an offensive to flush out suspected key Jemaah Islamiyah operatives sheltering with the Abu Sayyaf.
Change of heart
Ermita said US aid in the fight against Abu Sayyaf militants have changed Jolo folks’ view about the Balikatan, which is scheduled next month in that island.
In 2001, Ermita said, Jolo residents fiercely opposed Balikatan despite the benefits that went with the joint exercises.
“But when they started to have the next balikatan in Cotabato, the Joloanos through the government, signified their desire to welcome the next Balikatan in Jolo,” Ermita said.
Malacañang officials have spent the last two weeks trumpeting the benefits of US military aid and the war games, which were almost scuttled by a custody row over a US Marine convicted of raping a Filipino woman.
The midnight transfer of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy sparked outrage and accusations that the Philippine government was acting like an American puppet.
Ermita said the recent trouncing of the Abu Sayyaf shows the advantages of RP-US military training, particularly on the “exchange of intelligence and technological know-how.”
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