Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement, said that she plans to recommend to the Senate the abrogation of the RP-US VFA, because US troops are allegedly going beyond military exercises and have extended their presence in actual combat in Mindanao .
“My reference is Col. David Maxwell, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines ,” Santiago said.
At the hearing held yesterday (Thursday), Santiago cited the publication Focus on the Global South, quoting Maxwell as saying: “The Philippine Constitution does not prohibit combat operations and provides an exception to this, if there is a treaty in force.”
“By his own admission, Col. Maxwell is using the Task Force to engage in battle in Mindanao in the US war against terrorism, which includes the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah,” Santiago said.
She said that although RP and US authorities claim that US troops in Mindanao are only engaging in so-called military exercises, this term is not used in the VFA itself.