The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte warns US from making Philippine bases its depots

January 30, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the United States from making some of Philippine military bases in the country to be their depots, saying he could "ultimately abrogate" its treaties with America.

In a press conference Sunday night in Malacanang, Duterte said the US forces are now unloading arms in Palawan, Cagayan de Oro and Pampanga.

"I'm serving notice to the armed forces of the United States, do not do it. I will not allow it," he said, noting that there is a provision in the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement that there should be no permanent US military facilities in the country.

"A depot by any other name is a depot. It's a permanent structure to house do that and I will consider a review and may be ultimately abrogate treaties and executive order, abrogate the treaty altogether," he said.

The Philippines and the US have the existing Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1951, the VFA forged in 1998, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement inked in 2014.

Duterte also said that US could also have been bringing in nuclear weapons into the country, which is banned under the Philippine Constitution.

He said he would ask Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to talk with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim to tell the latter not to make military depots in the country.

He said the US has been "egging" the Philippines to force the decision of the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal against China over the disputed South China Sea.

The President disclosed that he made a "solemn commitment" to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he would talk with the latter about the arbitral award during his term.

But as to when it would happen, he did not know yet, he said.

Duterte said the US is "looking for trouble" with China and he would not allow the Philippines to be used.

With the relationship now of the Philippines with China, he noted that Chinese investments and tourists are coming in to the country.

"I would like to assure the president of China, Xi Jinping that I will stand by my word," Duterte said.

When the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China's nine-dash line, Beijing rejected it as well as the arbitral court's ruling.

What China had wanted was to resolve the territorial dispute in the South China Sea through bilateral talks, which is now the track of the Duterte administration. Celerina Monte/DMS