President Rodrigo Duterte may also abrogate the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, his spokesperson said Thursday.
Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement two days after the Philippines officially notified the US government of its intention to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which governs the conduct of visiting US personnel holding military exercises in the Philippines.
“That’s the logic but I don’t know if it will come to that,” he told reporters.
“I’m just reading the body language of the President. That will be logical kung the premise is we have to strengthen ourselves that means you won’t be relying on any country for your defenses.”
Panelo added he had yet to talk to the President on the issue of whether to end the other defense agreements with the US.
Signed in 2014, the EDCA allows the US to build structures; store as well as preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel; and station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for a period of 10 years.
EDCA was borne out of then-US President Barack Obama's strategic pivot to Asia, which called for the deployment of majority of US warships and troops to the world's most dynamic economic region.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday that the termination of the VFA would make the EDCA “practically useless” and the Mutual Defense Treaty a “hollow agreement.”
Panelo said Duterte does not want a renegotiation of the VFA.
“Hindi siya open. Hindi nga siya open na tayo ay pumasok sa mga military agreement sa ibang bansa eh,” he said in a separate radio interview. —LBG/KBK, GMA News