SAN MIGUEL, BULACAN: President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday clarified that he wanted American troops to leave Mindanao so that the government can hold peace talks with Moro rebels.
In his speech before Army Scout Rangers in Camp Tecson here, Duterte reiterated that he is “not against the Americans,” but said US troops should leave Mindanao for now.
“I’m not against the Americans… But behind, they think it’s American maneuvering. That’s why I said (leave) Mindanao. I never said, ‘Go out.’ One day, I will decide leave us to give us space to talk,” the President said.
He repeated that the Bud Dajo massacre in Jolo, Sulu decades ago was part of the root of unrest in the region.
“Fighting is now one century old. Muslims see us as extensions of Spaniards, Americans, series of imperialism,” he said, pointing out that he has to look for ways to maintain peace since soldiers “can’t fight forever.”
“While I build a strong army, my job is not just to look around. My job is to protect the country and maintain peace,” he said.
Duterte on Sunday said American forces in Mindanao should leave so as not to escalate the tension in the region.
According to him, members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf hate the US so much that they are ready to abduct and kill Americans.
Duterte, who recently hit the US and the United Nations for their alleged meddling with his war against illegal drugs, said he will not allow other countries to dictate on the Philippines.
“As I said, in my quest for what is right for my country, I’m putting on the table at stake my honor, my life and the presidency,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Defense department said the country will continue to honor the treaties it signed with the US and that US troops will remain in Mindanao.