ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on the deployment of a US combat drone to Mindanao:

Yesterday, the US Embassy announced that their government has deployed a “Gray Eagle” combat drone to Mindanao, purportedly to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance missions in support of the Duterte administration’s war against Muslim militants in Marawi.

The Gray Eagle (General Atomics MQ-1C Unmanned Aircraft System) is the new and upgraded version of the notorious Predator drone. Aside from its surveillance capabilities, it can be armed with 4 precision-guided Hellfire missiles to attack and destroy targets on the ground. As such, it is the US government’s weapon of choice for conducting targeted killings of alleged terrorists in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. While the US government tries to perpetuate the myth that their hi-tech drones are capable of surgical strikes, the reality is that the US drone attacks have caused thousands of civilian casualties throughout the Middle East and Africa. And now they are in the Philippines.

Last month, US media outlets reported that the Pentagon was planning to conduct drone strikes against alleged ISIS targets in Mindanao. Our top defense officials, including DND Secretary Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff Ano, appeared before Congress and dismissed these reports as “fake news.” The Gray Eagle deployment means that the US now has the capability to conduct such drone strikes in our territory. So who’s really feeding the public fake news?

I denounce in the strongest terms the Duterte administration for allowing the deployment of this harbinger of “death from above” on our shores. This represents an unprecedented escalation in the level of intervention of the US government in the war in Marawi. We demand that Malacanang explain to the public why it has requested and authorized the US government to deploy its combat drone to our country. We remind Malacanang that, existing treaty obligations notwithstanding, the United States is not allowed by the Constitution and law to conduct combat operations in the Philippines.

Not content with the destruction of Marawi by means of the unrelenting aerial bombardment of the Philippine Air Force, Pres. Duterte has opened the door for a foreign power to conduct drone strikes against his own people. We call for the immediate withdrawal of the US combat drone from our territory. The solution to armed conflict in Muslim Mindanao cannot be found through the so-called war against terror and imperialist intervention, but through a political solution that will address the root causes behind Moro oppression and marginalization.#