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Duterte: Trump, others trying to keep VFA with Philippines in place

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said his United States counterpart Donald Trump and some people are moving towards preventing the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Duterte made the disclosure as he lashed out at the US anew for allegedly interfering in the country’s domestic affairs, particularly the imprisonment of his staunch critic Senator Leila De Lima.

“I’ll make it public. Si Trump pati yung others are trying to save the Visiting Forces Agreement. Sabi ko ayaw ko. One is that napaka bastos ng Amerikano. Talagang sobrang bastos,” he told local government executives in Pasay City.

Duterte said the Philippines appeared to have not fully benefited from the military alliance with the US.

“We have been fighting the communists for 53 years. Kung nakatulong talaga ang Amerika, p— ina naman, hanggang ngayon?” he said.

“After the Balikatan exercises, they go home with their armaments they do not leave it with us. Tsaka kung bumili ka mahal.”

Duterte had sought the termination of the VFA after the US canceled the visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, his close ally, reportedly over the former national police chief’s involvement in the deadly war on drugs.

Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier announced Duterte had ordered Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to tell Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to send the Philippines’ notice of termination to the US government.

Panelo also said Duterte was set to speak with Trump by phone.

Locsin told a Senate inquiry last week that without the VFA, the US Departments of State and Defense would be hard put to get funds from the US Congress for foreign military financing and other defense assistance programs to the Philippines.

He also said US forces have been key in assisting the Philippines to fight non-traditional security threats such as trafficking in persons, cyberattack, terrorism, and illegal narcotics through training, joint exercises and exchange visits.

Locsin however pointed out that the option for the Philippines to end the VFA was an exercise of sovereignty. —NB, GMA News