Panelo says Duterte comment on Trump deserving reelection is not a form of campaign
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was not campaigning for US President Donald Trump when Duterte said Trump deserved to be reelected for saying the termination by Duterte of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was “fine” with him.
Trump is seeking reelection this November. His remarks about the VFA termination ran counter to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comments that terminating the agreement was “unfortunate” and a move “in the wrong direction.”
On Monday (Feb. 17), presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte was just “expressing his sentiments” about Trump’s response to the VFA termination when the Philippine President said Trump deserved to be reelected.
Duterte, according to Panelo, was “not necessarily campaigning.”
“And he explains it. He said, he liked the character of the man when it comes to issues of national interest, he’s standing up. In other words, he’s a principled man,” Panelo said of Duterte’s comments about Trump.
Trump had said he thought it was “fine” for Duterte to terminate the VFA, which governed US troops’ presence in the Philippines for military exercises and humanitarian efforts. Trump added he had a “very good” relationship with Duterte.
Panelo had said that Duterte would not entertain any move by the US government to salvage the VFA.
Duterte’s order to terminate the VFA came after the US canceled the visa of his longtime confidant, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who also served as his first police chief and oversaw his bloody war on drugs from 2016 to 2018.
As stipulated in the 1998 military pact, the expiration of the VFA will come 180 days from the receipt of the formal notice of termination from either country.
Edited by TSB
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