Militant partylist lawmakers urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sack Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon for allowing the Americans to intervene in the military operations in Marawi City without his approval.
Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna also called for a congressional investigation into the “US meddling.”
“This is very alarming and a shameless sellout of our sovereignty. The commander-in-chief himself does not know that his military and security officials have already asked assistance from a country that he has continually hit as a hypocrite and is only looking out for its own self-interest,” Zarate said.
Duterte admitted he was not aware the US government was providing assistance to the military as it battled the Maute terrorist group.
Duterte also said he never approached America for help.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had said the US was providing the Philippines with technical assistance.
In a separate statement, Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela backed the investigation and said the US participation in the operation in Marawi City should be cut.
They said the involvement of US military forces in the government’s operations in Marawi “constitutes a grave affront to the motherland’s sovereignty and bodes more rights violations against women and children in particular.”
“This latest case of US military intervention will pave the way for the US military build-up in Mindanao with the martial law declaration as cover,” the lawmakers said.
“It’s ironic for Filipinos to celebrate Independence Day when the government continues to pound civilian communities with bombs and bullets, when people are enslaved in fear and misery. This lopsided and bloody militarist approach must end. Martial law must be lifted now,” Brosas also said.
Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan echoed the call to lift martial law in Mindanao.
“We are in the cusp of a creeping authoritarianism with the unsheathing of martial law, a Marcosian legacy akin to the Holocaust,” he said.
“We cannot fight terrorism with a weapon that curtails our freedoms. We will only prevail against terrorists if we don’t instil fear, make fake news, and stifle critical thinking. This is what Independence Day should mean to us Filipinos, a day where we can celebrate freedom without fear either from terrorists or from those who want to take away democracy from us,” Villarin added.