Goldberg: Beyond US control if PH will cut ties
Outgoing United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg on Wednesday said it was beyond the control of his country if President Rodrigo Duterte decided to cut the Philippines’ ties with them.
In a press conference after receiving a commendation at the House of Representatives, Goldberg said the US would rather not contemplate on cutting ties with the Philippines, which is a signatory in various agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
Goldberg attended the plenary session on Wednesday to receive the conferment of the Golden Mace Award from the House for his efforts to strengthen the ties between the US and the Philippines.
The VFA and the Edca sought to allow US troops to visit and conduct exercises as well as increase rotational presence in the Philippines.
“The United States is committed to the alliance and to the Philippines. I said now several times, we are great friends and we are great allies. The VFA is one way in which we are able to carry out that alliance—by having our Armed Forces come and exercise, having a way forward by which we can carry out our alliance,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said the US would rather focus on strengthening its ties with the Philippines, but it would still be beyond its control if Duterte decided to end agreements with the US.
“I don’t want to talk about the end of the VFA. Of course those are decisions taken by the democratically elected government. But that is not our desire. We have the desire to continue our alliance, we have a great commitment, and our President Barack Obama has said the US has an ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines,” Goldberg said.
“That’s what friends do, I don’t want to contemplate. But that’s not up to me, that’s beyond the US control. But I can tell you that the US has a strong commitment to the people of the Philippines, to the development, well-being of the Philippines,” he added.
Goldberg enumerated the ties between the Philippines and the US in battling crime, child pornography, terrorism, as well as the help the US had extended to the Philippines, such as the relief efforts in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Goldberg said as a diplomat he did not take personally the verbal attacks from Duterte.
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“I don’t respond to or take personally comments such as the ones you mentioned,” he said, speaking to a reporter.
President Duterte has criticized the US, calling Goldberg gay and cursing US President Barack Obama for criticizing his administration’s war on drugs.
Duterte has also hinted at scrapping Edca to boot out rotational US forces in the Philippines and said this year’s joint war games with the US will be the last.