US Troops, Philippine Police in Bar Brawl Face Sanctions

Image from a video that captures American troops engaged in a bar brawl with Filipino policemen (Screengrab: YouTube video)
Image from a video that captures American troops engaged in a bar brawl with Filipino policemen (Screengrab: YouTube video)

MANILA, Philippines — American troops involved in a bar brawl with Filipino policemen face possible disciplinary sanctions in an incident earlier this month that the Philippine military says has no bearing on ongoing large-scale combat exercises by the treaty allies.

Philippine military spokesman Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson said the April 2 scuffle in western Palawan province was a misunderstanding that was settled amicably. A Youtube video showed one of three Filipino policemen drawing a pistol during the confrontation.

The U.S. military said in a statement that "any potential misconduct of U.S. service members is completely unacceptable" and will be dealt with by the troops' home unit. It did not give details of the incident nor identified the troops involved.

While off duty American troops appreciate the opportunity to experience the local culture while training in the Philippines, the U.S. military said it "demands high standards of conduct from service members at all times, and takes all incidents involving potential misconduct very seriously."

Sayson said the incident would not affect Balikatan, referring to the name of the joint military exercises by U.S. and Philippine troops.

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In the video, one of the Americans, who are all in casual clothes, approaches a table of the Filipino policemen and taps the top of a beer bottle with his, causing beer foam to flow out of the bottle. The policemen, who appeared offended, confront the Americans and one of the Filipino officers pulls out a pistol during the confrontation. Both sides were later pacified.

The three policemen were later disarmed by their superior and temporarily removed from their posts while undergoing an investigation, according to police Senior Superintendent Redentor Maranon, who heads the police force in Puerto Princesa city in Palawan province, where the scuffle happened.

Left-wing group Bayan, which has opposed any U.S. military presence in the country, said the incident underscored the constant risk of crimes being committed by U.S. forces. It cited past violations by visiting American military personnel, including the 2014 killing of a transgender Filipino by a Marine, who is serving a jail term after being convicted for the killing.

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