Defense pacts needed for PH to send troops to ME

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THE willingness of President Rodrigo Duterte to deploy Filipino troops to the Middle East may raise many questions but it is reasonable because of the huge number of Filipinos working there, a political analyst said Monday.

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Professor Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, however said that the Philippines should sign defense agreements with Middle East countries before Filipino troops can be sent there.

Forging defense agreements can benefit the Philippines because “we can gain a lot in so far as exchanges of ideas and intelligence involving terrorism,” he added.

Without an official defense agreement, Manila can only deploy troops as part of a contingent send by the United Nations.

“It will fall under our international commitment, but if the President wants to do it bilaterally there is a need to have a treaty first,” he explained.

The President earlier said that he would be willing to deploy Filipino soldiers if Bahrainis attacked by terrorists.

“I stressed the point that should the need arises, we will be there to help them,” Duterte said when he arrived home from his three-country swing in the Middle East.

“The intention of the President is good because he is concerned with the welfare and safety of the Filipino workers there,” Casiple said.

He added that the sending of Philippines troops to the Middle East should not fuel fears of terrorist attacks because the country is already a target of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

But national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. clarified that the deployment of Philippine troops in the Middle East would be for training, not for military operations.

He noted that military assistance can also be in the form of exchanges of intelligence information.

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