President Rodrigo Duterte would reject any attempt by the United States government to prevent the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Malacañang said Tuesday.
The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, delivered earlier in the day the notice of termination of the country’s VFA with the US upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Reacting to Manila’s move, the US Embassy in Manila, which received the notice, said Washington would "carefully consider how best to move forward” as it viewed the termination as a “serious step with significant implications.”
“The President will not entertain any initiative coming from the US government to salvage the VFA, neither will he accept any official invitation to visit the United States,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“All these actions are anchored on the policy of President Duterte to chart an independent foreign policy with our foreign relations with other states being based on national interests and general welfare.”
Duterte told local government executives on Monday that US President Donald Trump and some people are moving towards preventing the abrogation of the VFA, which governs the conduct of visiting US personnel holding military exercises in the Philippines.
He said he was not amenable to this.
Manila's move to abrogate the accord raised questions on the future of the 69-year treaty alliance of the Philippines and the US at a time when the country is grappling with the maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.
The US Navy regularly conducts freedom of navigation patrols to ensure unfettered access to the resource-rich waters.
Over the years, the US military also assisted the Armed Forces of the Philippines in combating extremist groups by providing technical assistance and enemy surveillance to Filipino troops battling the militants.
The US military has also provided aid to the Philippines during calamities and natural disasters.
However, Duterte believed that the Philippines could not “forever rely on other countries for the defense of the state and should instead strengthen our own resources for our defenses,” according to Panelo.
Panelo said the Philippines is open to entering into a military alliance with other countries as long as the terms of the agreement are beneficial to both nations. —LDF, GMA News