US help in Marawi limited to technical assistance only — Abella

MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abellaon Sunday clarified the “assistance” being provided by United States in the ongoing operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi as only “limited to technical assistance”.

“We have standing protocols which are already in place under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board with the US under the purview of the PHL-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. It does not involve any boots on the ground nor is there any direct participation in combat operations, a matter prohibited by law,” Abella said.

The fight against terrorism, he said, is not only the concern of the Philippines or the United States but it is a concern of many nations around the world.

“The Philippines is open to assistance from other countries if they offer it,” he added.

Still on Marawi, Abella said the Palace was deeply saddened by the news on the 13 Marines killed in action during a firefight in Marawi City.

“This incident, albeit unfortunate, gives us greater impetus to clear Marawi of lawless elements, save the trapped civilians, and restore order, security and normalcy to the city and its residents,” he stressed.

He went on to enjoin every one to continue showing strong support to our “courageous and heroic men and women in uniform fighting for Marawi and defending the Republic”.