NPA also target of SAF training
ZAMBOANGA CITY—American soldiers are now training members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) unit of the Philippine National Police on combat tactics which, a ranking PNP official said, would help in the fight against insurgents and terrorists.
Chief Supt. Randolf Delfin, deputy police director for Western Mindanao, said the 45-day training program would equip SAF members with more skills “in our fight against insurgency and terrorism.”
Delfin’s statements drew angry reactions from leftist groups that said the police officer’s statements confirmed what they had been saying all along—US government involvement in counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines.
“We condemn this continuing US interventionist policy,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate.
He said US military operations in the Philippines, “like this one disguised as a supposed training, are in fact among the causes of rebellion” by past and “present-day revolutionaries.”
US Army Maj. Dustin Delcoure, liaison of the Pacific Command Augmentation Team, said US troops would teach Philippine counterparts “skills that we have from years of experience.”
Delcoure did not confirm or deny Delfin’s statement on improved counterinsurgency measures being part of the objectives of the training program.
He said only that the training program is the result of friendship between the US and the Philippine governments.
“So it’s kind of a camaraderie,” Delcoure said.
“It’s really good bonding between the two units,” he said.
Kim Gargar, spokesperson of environment group Panalipdan, said the use of US forces to train policemen against insurgents is “pure and simple foreign military intervention.”
“By allowing this, the Aquino government is guilty of violating the Constitution,” he said.
According to Delfin, American soldiers brought in pieces of equipment for the training program.
It would be a two-way street, however, said Delcoure. He said US soldiers are also expecting to learn from their Philippine counterparts.
Supt. Reynard Arino, commanding officer of the 5th Special Action Battalion, said at least 60 SAF men would take part in the training program with courses on marksmanship and small unit tactics.
Last month, US soldiers also started training SAF men on tactical combat care or life-saving support, according to Chief Supt. Miguel Antonio Jr., head of the Western Mindanao police.
Antonio said the training program was held inside the Zamboanga Ecozone and Freeport Authority in Barangay San Ramon, Zamboanga City.
“They are here as consultants,” said Antonio of the US soldiers. Julie Alipala with a report from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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