MANILA - Malacañang on Sunday said it welcomes assistance from other countries in the ongoing fight against the Maute group in Marawi City.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government is “open to assistance from other countries” if offered.
“The fight against terrorism, however, is not only the concern of the Philippines or the United States but it is a concern of many nations around the world. The Philippines is open to assistance from other countries if they offer it,” Abella said in a statement.
Abella clarified the U.S. special forces’ assistance in the military’s operations against the Maute group was “limited to technical assistance.”
“It does not involve any boots on the ground nor is there any direct participation in combat operations, a matter prohibited by law,” he said.
He added that the assistance is under the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, which states the two countries would support each other if either would be attacked by an external party.
“We have standing protocols which are already in place under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board with the US under the purview of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951,” he said.
Malacañang issued the statement as President Duterte said today that he did not know that the U.S. was providing assistance to government troops fighting the Islamic State-linked militants in Marawi.