Trump downplays Duterte's ending of military pact

  • Trump downplays Duterte's ending of military pact

Trump downplays Duterte's ending of military pact

After his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA) as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last Wednesday, Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr. said the AFP supports the President's abrogation last Tuesday of the VFA and that "we will live without the VFA".

"Yes, of course", Panelo said in a Palace press briefing when asked if Manila gains Washington's respect after VFA's revocation. "How? By terminating it, we show them that we do not need them".

Esper said the termination, set to take effect in 180 days, runs counter to bilateral efforts with the Philippines and collective efforts with regional allies to push China toward abiding by global norms in the region. When asked about the decision Wednesday, Trump said he really doesn't mind, not least of all because it will likely save the USA money down the road. I don't really mind if they would like to do that; it will save a lot of money. Duterte, he added, is determined to abrogate the VFA and will no longer entertain any initiatives from the United States to save the deal.

"W$3 e'll see what happens", he said. "They'll have to tell me that", he said.

Panelo also said that Duterte "won't anymore" talk to Trump, and "won't entertain any initiatives of the USA government".

"The statements of Mr. Trump, we do not know exactly whether he was very serious (about) that". The president acknowledged his view likely differs from other officials, but he affirmed he has a good relationship with Duterte (who has drawn global criticism for some authoritarian measures) and added that the US already helped defeat the Islamic State's presence in the country. "We weaken ourselves if we keep on being (a) parasite to any of the countries", he said.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is a little concerned about the Philippines' decision to scrap a defense pact with the United States, but his boss thinks it's no big deal.

Panelo said Duterte's stance to rescind VFA "remains unchanged".

SENATE President Vicente Sotto 3rd on Thursday said the ratification and termination of any treaty entered into by the Philippine government needs Senate concurrence.

Visiting US military personnel can use their permits and licenses in the Philippines, according to VFA. They can also fly to the host country without passport and visa restrictions. Dela Rosa has been cited for human rights violations related to Duterte's bloody drug war that began when he was elected president in 2016.

MDT aims to boost the defense and security cooperation between the two countries' troops, while EDCA intends to boost military ties in maritime security and domain.

Today, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo sought to paint Duterte's decision as a push for greater self-reliance on the part of the Philippines.

"Well, to be consistent with his stand, then all treaties must go, by the tone of his body language. We'll have to strengthen our own resources", he said, referring to MDT and EDCA. The 1998 agreement provides legal permission for thousands of US troops who rotate into the Philippines for dozens of military and humanitarian assistance exercises each year.

"As we try to bolster our presence and compete with [China] in this era of great-power competition, I think it's a move in the wrong direction, again for the long-standing relationship we've had with the Philippines, for their strategic location, for the ties between our peoples and our countries", the USA defense secretary said on route to Brussels.