12 June 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he was not aware the U.S. was providing assistance to government troops in the battle for Marawi city. Samantha Vadas reports. Fierce fighting in the southern Philippines is continuing into its third week on Monday (June 12), as the country marks its Independence Day.
The military had hoped to have ended the siege of Marawi by now, but as government forces struggle to make headway in the battle against ISIS-linked militants, the US has stepped in to help.
In an interesting twist though, President Rodrigo Duterte says he knew nothing about.
PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT, RODRIGO DUTERTE: "I never approached any American to say 'please help us'. I was not aware of that until they arrived."
That comment on Sunday (June 11) came just a day after the U.S. said it was providing support in Marawi at the request of the government.
Duterte is know for taking a hostile stance on the U.S., but even he has been forced to admit that his soldiers are pro-America, sparking speculation that the military may have gone behind the president's back to request help.
The Filipino military says Washington is providing technical assistance, but has no American boots are on the ground.
The Pentagon has kept 50 to 100 troops in southern Philippines for years, with an additional 300 to 500 across the country helping with intelligence and surveillance.