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Duterte: PH must be able to defend itself

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 2/27/2020 Catherine S. Valente, TMT
Rodrigo Duterte in a blue shirt © Provided by The Manila Times

The Philippines has “no business being a republic” if it cannot stand on its own feet, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

That means the country could become a territory of the United States or a province of China, following Manila’s termination of its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Washington, the President continued.

“If we can’t do it, we have no business being a republic. You might as well choose. We can be a territory of the Americans or we can be a province of China,” he said.

The President recalled asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines whether the Philippines could survive without the VFA.

“My question to the Armed Forces: can we survive without the Americans? Can we fight the wars?,” Duterte said. “And the military and police said, ‘Sir, we can.’”

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Philippines must stop being a “parasite” to other countries in terms of defense after its move to abrogate the VFA.

The Philippine government recently notified the US that it wants to terminate the military pact that allows American troops to train Filipino soldiers in the country.

The VFA termination came after Duterte blasted what he said were inequities in the treaty provisions, as well as a string of US actions that supposedly disrespected the country’s sovereignty and justice system.

US President Donald Trump has downplayed Duterte’s notice of termination of the VFA, saying he did not mind such a move and it would actually save the US “a lot of money.”

Duterte earlier claimed that Trump was trying to save the military accord between the two countries, but he rebuffed such attempt.

The VFA’s scrapping, which was signed in February 1998, will take effect 180 days following the receipt of formal notice sent by the Philippines to the US.

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