Tuesday, 25 October 2016

President Duterte leaves for Japan to Foster Closer Ties. Philippines Not Interested in Wars, No Need For US To Defend It

The US shouldn't treat the Philippines like a “dog with a leash,” says President Rodrigo Duterte, adding that he does not want to see foreign soldiers in his country. The remarks are the latest in a string of inflammatory statements aimed at Washington.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Duterte said he looks forward to a time when he no longer sees “any military groups or soldier in my country, except the Filipino soldier,” GMA News reported.

“I really hate it. I don't want it. We don't need it. There's not going to be any war in the future,” Duterte added referring to the presence of foreign troops.

He said Washington could “forget” about an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with Manila if he is to stay in power.

“...We have the EDCA. Well, forget it. If I stay here long enough, one day that EDCA will, if it's an executive agreement then I will just…" he said leaving his sentence hanging in the air.

The EDCA provides for increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines. It also covers the use of Philippines military bases by US forces.

The comments are the latest in series of confusing statements by Duterte when it comes to Manila's relationship with Washington.

Last week, the Philippines leader announced it was “time to say goodbye” to its relationship with the US, including in the military and economic spheres.

The US embassy in the Philippines referred to Duterte's remarks as “troubling rhetoric” at the time, saying they caused“unnecessary certainty.” It went on to state that it expected Manila to jointly honor alliance commitments and treaty obligations with Washington.

However, Philippines Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN on Friday that the leader “did not talk about separation with the US,” and that the US would not be stopping trade or investment with America. One day later, Duterte himself backtracked on claims that he was severing ties with the US

Earlier this month, Duterte also vowed to end joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea, citing a necessity to avoid actions which China could deem hostile. He also reiterated his vow to chart independent foreign policy without breaking existing treaties.

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