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Duterte to US: You want VFA? You have to pay

President Rodrigo Duterte served notice to the United States government that it should pay the Philippines to resume the activities under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA.

“I want to put notice, if there is an American agent here, if you want VFA, you have to pay. You have to pay because it is a shared responsibility,” Duterte said at the inspection of new air assets of the Philippine Air Force in Clark Air Base in Pampanga on Friday night. 

“Your share of responsibility does not come free because after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay,” he added.

Inked between the Philippines and the United States in 1999, VFA allows American forces to hold joint military exercises, counter intelligence training and engage in humanitarian aid missions with their Filipino counterparts.

The VFA, however, prohibits US troops from engaging in combat operations.

The President says the American's helping hand is crucial that he would rather put his ill-feelings about them in the backburner.

"In the past, ang hinanakit ko, we ask so much from them because they have taken so much from us na libre...iyong advancing their troops in our land, okay lang 'yan sa akin. We do not want to quarrel with anybody," Duterte said.

"The exigency of the moment requires their (Americans) presence here," he added.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said the Philippines and the United States will meet later this month to discuss the fate of the two allies' VFA, which was suspended by the Duterte administration.

In February last year, Duterte ordered the abrogation of the VFA, which allows American soldiers to regularly train with their Filipino counterparts in the country, after the US revoked the visa of his close aide and former police chief now senator, Ronald Dela Rosa.

No specific reason was cited by the US on Dela Rosa's visa cancellation, but many speculated it was due to his involvement in Duterte's deadly war on drugs, which killed at least 6,000.

The VFA is under the ambit of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which has bound Manila and Washington since 1952.

The MDT provides that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines and the US would be dangerous and that they would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.—LDF, GMA News