Duterte says America must “pay” if they want to maintain a military presence in the Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and his daughter Sara Duterte arrive for a conference in 2018 in Boao, China. (AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Catherine S. Valente

The Manila Times, Philippines

Feb. 13—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the United States must “pay” if it wanted to retain its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines.

Speaking during the inspection of newly delivered air assets at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Duterte accused the US of taking “so much from us,” even as “so much” of Philippine demands “were not delivered at all.”

“I’d 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.

“It is a shared responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free because after all when the war breaks out, we all pay. You, kami (us),” he added.

Duterte said he once told former US president Donald Trump the Philippines needed US-made guided missiles, which the Philippines was willing to pay for, “but until now, it’s still in the air.”

“For the reason of exigency of the moment requires their presence here, okey na lang ako d’yan. But in the past, we ordered so much from them and so much was not delivered at all,” Duterte said.

In February 2020, the Philippine government, on the President’s instruction, notified the US it was scrapping the VFA, a pact approved in 1998 allowing American troops participating in joint military drills to enter the country without passport or visa.

The pact remains in effect after Duterte in June last year held back its abrogation “in light of political and other developments in the region.”

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