The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, will not consider any initiative of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to save a two-decade military agreement between the two countries, and favors the completion of all defense agreements with the United States, including the Mutual Defense Treaty, its spokesman. has declared.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Manila on Thursday that “reading Duterte’s body language” is “logical” what he wants to do next.
“To be consistent with its position, all treaties must leave,” Panelo said.
“If he says we have to be alone and not trust [on others] That means we will have to strengthen our own resources. We don’t need other countries, “Panelo explained in a mixture of Filipino and English.
On Tuesday, Duterte had formally announced the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
The agreement provides a framework for the temporary entry of US troops into the Philippines for joint training exercises with the Philippine forces. The termination will take effect 180 days after the Philippines delivers the notice to the US. UU.
In addition to the VFA, the Philippines has a long-standing Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States signed in 1951. That agreement requires the Philippines and the United States to extend each other in the event that either party is attacked by another country.
A second complementary agreement, signed in 2014, allows the US. UU. Maintain weapons and park US troops within five Philippine army bases. This agreement played a fundamental role in the defeat of the Philippine armed groups in the southern Philippines allied with the ISIL group.
Now there are concerns that without the VFA, the other two covenants would be irrelevant.
“What is important for the president is that this is the time to terminate the Agreement of the Visiting Forces. The more we depend on them, the more our position is weakened,” Panelo said, adding that what Duterte wants to do next “we’ll see”. “.
‘Assault on sovereignty’
Panelo also said that Duterte “will no longer” talk to Trump and “will not consider any initiative of the United States government.”
Trump had ignored Duterte’s decision to end the VFA, saying he “didn’t care too much,” adding that “he will save a lot of money.”
Duterte’s decision was triggered by the revocation of a US visa from the former police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who led his so-called drug war that left thousands of people dead.
Panelo explained earlier that Duterte’s decision was a consequence of legislative and executive actions of the United States that “border on attacking our sovereignty and disrespecting our judicial system.”
Previously, Duterte had accused the United States of using the agreements to carry out clandestine activities such as espionage and the construction of an arsenal of nuclear weapons, which, according to him, runs the risk of making the Philippines a target for Chinese aggression .
Some Filipino senators tried to block Duterte’s measure shortly after the news was heard, arguing that without the approval of the Senate he had no right to unilaterally discard the international pacts he had ratified.
Supporters of the agreements argue that they have deterred Chinese militarization in the South China Sea, while $ 1.3 billion of defense assistance from the United States since 1998 has been vital in boosting the capabilities of low-income Filipino forces .
On Wednesday, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario described Duterte’s decision to end the VFA as a “national tragedy.”
Filipino nationalists, however, say the United States did nothing to prevent China from building islands in the South China Sea equipped with missiles and say that the VFA is inclined in favor of the Americans, including granting trial immunity for the US military.
Since becoming president in 2016, Duterte has signaled a change of alliance outside the US. UU. And closer to China.
Al Jazeera and news agencies