Duterte willing to send PHL military to help Gulf allies
MANILA, Apr 17 (Mabuhay) – President Rodrigo Duterte said he is ready to deploy government troops to help allies in the Middle East should these countries face attack.
Duterte made the pronouncement during separate business forums in Bahrain and Qatar, two of his three stops in the Middle East this week.
The President made the offer out of gratitude to the Gulf countries, where thousands of Filipinos have flown to seek work. He noted that this is to the Philippines’ “national interest.”
“We may be far away, thousands of miles, but on our most important national interest is really the kindness and the accommodation that you have extended to my brothers, the Filipinos,” he said during a business forum in Bahrain. “That is why I said to his Royal Highness that national interest is very important, and I committed to stand by you at all times.”
Duterte said the Philippines would be ready to assist with its military “if things break loose” in the region. The troops will be sent in the guise of “training in the desert,” he added.
“My soldiers are very disciplined… If you need troops here in the borders, let us put it in writing that they are here for training. If you want us to stay for one month, fine. If you want to deploy us, we will agree, because of our national interest and the lives of the Filipino people,” he said.
“If you want soldiers under your command, I’m willing to send you one battalion, one regiment, one division to protect you. Just say the word. And if other countries [ask], ‘What are you doing?’ I would just say, ‘It is in our national interest,’” he added.
“You know, we are a people of gratitude and if we can repay you… we do not have the resources—we do not have the oil—but we can offer our lives to you,” he went on.
Duterte only asked the countries to feed the soldiers and give them shelter should this happen.
“I do not need the permission of America or NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. I am independent of them. And I will only protect where our interest lies. There are millions of Filipinos here. You can be sure that if you need us, we will come,” he said in the Philippines-Qatar Business Forum.
The pronouncement was met by applause from businessmen in both events.
However, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon qualified the President’s offer, saying the troops would be sent only “on the basis of training.”
Esperon said the arrangement has not been set, and “will probably take up six months to one year.”
“This will be very selective, and it will probably be based on specialized courses or training. It’s a normal military-to-military cooperation, security cooperation,” he said.
“There’s no such thing as a military operational deployment, although we have in this area—in Bahrain—we are part of what we call a Coalition of Maritime Force. We send observers to that,” he added.
Esperon also said the military and security cooperation between the countries may mean “exchange of information” in that regard. (MNS)