• Local execs in Zamboanga, Sulu and Basilan are reportedly sad with president’s announcement
  • Acting Zamboanga City mayor said US forces’ presence helps peace and order situation
  • Wesmincom officials mum on Duterte’s statement

MANILA, Philippines – Local officials in Zamboanga City, Sulu and Basilan are reportedly saddened by President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement telling US special forces they need to leave Mindanao.

In an interview with the Philippine Star, Zamboanga City Acting Mayor Cesar Iturralde said the presence of American troops is a huge boost to maintaining peace and order in their respective areas.

“We have reservations on the pronouncement of the president as we all know the assistance provided by the US troops in ensuring the security and peace and order of the city,” he said.

At the same time, Iturralde said they will abide by the president’s decision even as he hopes he will still change his mind on the matter.

“But we will highly respect the president as we are very much supportive of his plans and programs in this matter,” he said.

For its part, the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) declined to give any comment on Duterte’s statement for now.

“It is beyond our level and any statement relative to that pronouncement of our commander-in-chief will be from the higher headquarters,” an official with the Command said.

Duterte earlier said he wants American forces to depart from Mindanao to avoid becoming victims of the Abu Sayyaf and to prevent their presence from further agitating the locals.

“Mas lalong iinit. Pag makakita ng Amerikano, papatayin talaga ‘yan. Kukuha ng ransom, papatayin. Even if you’re black or white American, basta Amerikano,” he said.

 [It will get more tense. If they see an American, they will really be killed. They will demand ransom, they will kill them. Even if you’re black or white, as long as you’re American.]