Duterte threatens to stop EDCA
MANILA — President Duterte threatened on Sunday (Oct. 2), to stop the implementation of the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as he revealed he would soon announce a new policy that his government would observe in connection with the country’s ties with the United States.
Mr. Duterte said his government has been reviewing the EDCA, reminding the US government that while it might be an official document, it was just an executive agreement not even signed two years ago by then president Benigno Aquino III, but only by his official representatives in the negotiation for EDCA.
He said EDCA, which was signed in 2014 but was not implemented until the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in January, was only signed by then defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and a US aide.
“Better think twice now because I would be asking you to leave the Philippines altogether,” President Duterte said to the US government. That would happen, said the President, if the US were “unable to produce the signature bearing the permit to conduct war games.”
The President made the statement as he reiterated he would strengthen the country’s ties with China and Russia, disclosing for the first time he had talked to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev while he was in Laos for the Asean summit last month.
The President said he met with Medvedev and told him about the way the US was humiliating him and that the latter told him he would help him.
He said China, on the other hand, told him to go with Beijing because the US would not be able to give Philippines some assistance.
Reiterating the insults he got from the US, President Duterte said “tomorrow I will be friends with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Chinese President) Xi Jinping.”
In a speech in Bacolod City where he attended the 37th Maskara festival, the President slammed the US for the reprimand and insult that he said it has been hurling at him over his deadly war on drugs.
“If you Americans are angry with me, then I am also angry with you,” he said.
Mr. Duterte decried that the US has not been helping the country in its war on drugs, saying his administration did not have money and has been working on a national budget prepared by the administration of Benigno Aquino III that did not anticipate the extent of the drug problem in the country.
He again reiterated that he has been considering to have Americans in Mindanao pack their bags so that he could negotiate with a group of Muslim scholars whom he said refused to negotiate with him due to the US presence in the South.
He said these scholars told him they would talk to him but would not negotiate with him about peace “as long as the Americans are in Mindanao.”
“This prompted me to say there may be a time I may ask the US to leave Mindanao to be able to connect to them and talk and maybe they will decide to negotiate,” he said.
“I’m just being your President,” he added, reminding that he had earlier said he would “open another front in our foreign policy” with the US due to the humiliation it has heaped on him. SFM
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