Duterte tells US: Pay if you want VFA to stay
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday demanded the United States to “pay” if they want to continue its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines.
“I would like to put on notice if there’s an American agent here that from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? Well, you have to pay,” Duterte said in his speech at the inspection of newly delivered air assets at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
“It’s a shared responsibility but your share of responsibility does not come free because after all when the war breaks out, we all pay,” he added.
While he is a “friend” to the US, Duterte lamented how its promises remain kaput.
“For the reason of exigency of the moment requires their presence here, okay na lang ako dyan. But in the past, we ordered so much from them and so much were not delivered at all,” Duterte said.
“Until such time I was able to talk to President Trump. Sabi niya what are your requirements? We need the guided rockets. We have been asking for it, we are willing to pay for it Mr. President. But until now, it’s still in the air. I think it was delivered after a few weeks, few months,” he recalled.
In December, Duterte said he would continue to abrogate the VFA if the US could not provide the Philippines with its Covid-19 vaccines.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines and the US will meet this month to iron out differences over the VFA.
This, after the Philippines suspended for the second time Duterte’s decision to terminate the pact that provides the legal framework under which US troops can operate on a rotational basis in the Philippines.
‘Walking on a tight rope with China’
While the US was on the receiving end of the President’s tough words, Duterte, in the same speech, once again explained his seeming warm stance with China.
“I am walking on a tight rope actually. I cannot afford to be brave in the mouth against China because we are avoiding any confrontation that would lead to something which we can hardly afford at least not at this time,” Duterte said.
Despite this, Duterte noted that he is “not allied with anybody.”
“I am an alay. I-alay ko ang buhay ko,” said the President. (I am an offering. I will offer my life.)
“I’m not against Chinese neither am I…hindi ako [I am not] pro American. I’m just a Filipino government worker working for the interest of my country,” he added.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the ruling that invalidated its ambitious nine-dash line that practically covers the entire body of water.
But Duterte, upon assumption to the presidency, set aside the international tribunal ruling supposedly in exchange of Chinese economic perks.