No need for intensified air strikes in Marawi - official

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2017 03:44 PM

MARAWI - The provincial crisis management committee of Lanao del Sur does not see the need to intensify air strikes in this city as the conflict nears its third month.

Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman of the committee, said the damage left by military air strikes in Marawi is already massive.

"We don't want to burden the government anymore," Adiong said.

"There's already an ongoing airstrike being conducted by the Philippine military. Their air assets are already being used. Mas guided ang target nila."

Adiong made the statement following international media reports that US officials in Pentagon are looking into the possibility of American forces conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets in the southern city.

The official said Philippine authorities should look into these reports to know if the US and the Philippines have already reached an agreement on the alleged plan to intensify the air strikes.

"Manning jets with American pilots and deploying them in the main battle area is something we need to discuss. Senate has to review this because it will fall under the [Visiting Forces Agreement]," he said.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año has said the Philippines has not received formal notice of the United States' reported plan to conduct air strikes in conflict-stricken Marawi.

"The existing Mutual Defense Treaty provides that only technical assistance and training may be allowed under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB)," he stressed.

"Direct military actions may only be allowed during actual invasion of the Philippines by another state actor," he added.--with reports from Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News