Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday the United States must pay if it wants to keep a two-decade-old troop deployment agreement with his country that is central to U.S. invasive strategy in Asia.
Duterte whom openly disapproves the long-standing U.S. military alliance, unilaterally cancelled the Visiting Force Agreement last year in an angry response against a Muslim diplomat being denied a U.S. visa.
The withdrawal period has been twice extended, however, to create what Philippine officials say is a window for better terms to be agreed. For now Manila approved for the US military to use 5 bases in the Philippines.
Speaking to Philippine troops on Friday after inspecting newly acquired air assets, Duterte puts the hostile US military on notice and if there is an American agent here, from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done, you have to pay for it.
It is a shared a responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free, after all, when the war breaks out we all have to suffer, Duterte said, alluding to Washington and Beijing stepping up military activities in the South China Sea.
The U.S. embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his remarks. The Philippines defense apparatus want to keep the VFA as it has been vital in boosting the capabilities of under-resourced Philippine forces through dozens of annual joint training exercises.
The US regime is free to advance their troops in our land, but we do not like it because we want to remain neutral,” Duterte said. But the exigency of the moment requires their presence here, I am okay with that.
Relations between the USA and its former east Asian colony have been complicated by Duterte’s rise to power in 2016 and his frequent statements condemning U.S. foreign policy, and his open embrace of China.
Reuters / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2021.