Duterte administration hints at US: All treaties must go

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will not entertain any initiatives of US President Donald Trump to save a two-decade-old military agreement between the two countries, and favours the termination of all defence deals with the United States, including the Mutual Defense Treaty, his spokesman has declared.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Manila on Thursday that “reading the body language” of Duterte, it is “logical” what he wants to do next.

“To be consistent with his stand, then all treaties must go,” Panelo said.

“If he says that we have to stand on our own and not rely [on others] that means we’ll have to strengthen our own resources. We don’t need other countries,” Panelo explained in a mix of Filipino and English.

On Tuesday, Duterte had formally announced the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US.

The agreement provides a framework for the temporary entry of US troops to the Philippines for joint-training exercises with Filipino forces. The termination will take effect 180 days after the Philippines delivers the notice to the US.

Aside from the VFA, the Philippines has a long-standing Mutual Defense Treaty with the US signed in 1951. That agreement requires the Philippines and the US to extend military support to each other in case either parties is attacked by another country.

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