US envoy denies conspiracy theories-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
UNITED States Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas Jr. on Tuesday debunked what he tagged as a "conspiracy theory" that Washington's recent activities and the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama are influencing the current situation in Mindanao.
The envoy said he was "surprised" that conspiracy theories are spreading about the US' supposed role in the current conflict in Mindanao between government forces and the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) allegedly led by Nur Misuari.
"The Partnership For Growth was launched by then Secretary [Hilary] Clinton and [Foreign Affairs] Secretary [Albert] del Rosario to fight corruption and enhance economic opportunities. It has nothing to do with the ongoing violence in Mindanao," Thomas said during the 4th Kapihan sa Embahada held at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.
"I don't understand why that would happen," he added.
Thomas said the US embassy, on behalf of Washington, has condemned the clashes in Mindanao perpetrated by the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Also, the envoy stressed that Obama's two-day visit to the Philippines "has nothing to do" with the tensions in Mindanao, which has been continuing for at least three decades.
He admitted though that members of the American military are training and advising the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Special Forces "so they can take charge of all of these."
"But we train and advise only. These [Mindanao conflict] are the things the Philippine government can only [handle by themselves]," Thomas said.
Since the clashes in Zamboanga City started in September 9, 12 civilians and 14 soldiers were killed while 13 policemen, 138 soldiers and 69 civilians were wounded.
A total of 103 members of the MNLF were killed while 118 either surrendered or were captured.
President Benigno Aquino III, who just came back to Manila after spending 10 days in Zamboanga City to oversee the military operations there, promised to give justice to those who perished and were affected by the violence. (CVB/Sunnex)