MANILA, Philippines— President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said that if the Philippines could not stand on its own feet, it might as well choose between becoming a territory of the United States or a province of China.
“Kasi ‘pag hindi natin kaya (If we can’t do it), we have no business being a Republic. You might as well choose,” Duterte said, speaking at the oath-taking of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts officials and presentation of Ani ng Dangal awardees. “We can be a territory of the Americans or we can be a province of China.”
Duterte said this as he recalled asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whether the Philippines could survive without the U.S. over the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“Ang tanong ko lang sa Armed Forces (My question to the Armed Forces), ‘Mabubuhay ba tayo kung wala ang Amerika? (Can we survive without the Americans?) Can we fight the wars?’,” Duterte asked.
“Tayo, isang bayan (We are a nation). Sa (In the) Republic of the Philippines, do you need a powerful country—the most powerful country, at that United States? Do we need America to survive as a nation? Do we need America now to fight a rebellion in our entire country? Do we need their arms?” Duterte further asked.
Duterte said the military and police have answered on the affirmative regarding the question of whether we could survive without the United States.
“And the military and police said, ‘Sir, kaya natin (we can)’,” he said.
The President also reiterated that America’s meddling in Philippine affairs is the reason why he decided to terminate the 20-year-old VFA.
“Well, every day in the newspapers and in the halls of the Senate of the United States, we were being portrayed as a Republic incapable of administering simple justice,” Duterte said.
Duterte had ordered the termination of the military pact following United States’ cancellation of the visa of his staunch ally, former top cop, and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.
But his U.S. counterpart, President Donald Trump, said he does not mind the agreement’s termination saying “it will save” America “a lot of money”.