• Palace justifies US role in Mamasapano mission

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    Malacañang on Tuesday justified the United States’ reported involvement in the Mamasapano operation, saying the campaign against terrorism involves more than one country.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Special Action Force (SAF) operation against terrorists like Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan needed “transnational cooperation.”

    “Marwan is a suspect in terrorism, which is considered a transnational crime. By definition, if it’s transnational crime, it involves more than one nation, it involves crossing of boundaries, and it involves sharing of information among countries [who have]relevant information,” Coloma told reporters.

    He noted that the Philippines is also working with other countries to fight transnational crimes.

    Coloma, however, neither confirmed nor denied alleged participation of American troops in operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

    The Palace official made the statement amid reports that the US provided funding, training, logistics and intelligence for the “Oplan Exodus.”

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday also belied claims by militant groups that American forces took part in the execution of “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.

    PNP spokesperson and Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo said the mission to capture Marwan was purely a SAF operation.

    He, however, admitted that the US has been helping the PNP by providing training and equipment especially in the field of counter-terrorism and policing.

    “In fact right now I would think that there’s cross-training or sharing with these foreign partners,” Cerbo said in a news briefing.

    He also noted that he sees nothing wrong with the US helping on the ground.

    “T he US has been our partner not only in the field of policing but also in other aspects as well,” Cerbo told reporters.

    He maintained that no American troops were deployed on the ground when SAF commandos battled members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on January 25 in Mamasapano.

    The fierce clash left 44 SAF members dead.

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