In a New conference held at Cagayan de Oro City, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he did not seek support from Washington to end the siege of a southern Philippines town by Islamist militants. The Philippines President said, he had never asked for US support.
To another question about the US support to fight the pro-Islamic State militants in Marawi City on the island of Mindanao, Duterte said he was “not aware of that until they arrived.”
As per the Philippines military, U.S. forces were providing technical assistance but had no “boots on the ground”, confirming a statement from the U.S. embassy in Manila which said the support had been requested by the government.
Duterte, who declared martial law on Mindanao – an island the size of South Korea – after the Islamist fighters overran Marawi, said that under martial law he has authority over the defense department.
At least 200 militants are holed up in a corner of the town. An estimated 500 to 1,000 civilians are trapped there, some being held as human shields, while others are hiding in their homes with no access to running water, electricity or food.