Wednesday, President Trump said he did not mind Philippines President Duterte’s decision to end a decades-old military agreement with the United States
President Duterte Tuesday announced termination of the 20 yr old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the decision “unfortunate” as Washington and its allies press China to abide by “international rules” in Asia.
The US Embassy in Manila called it “a serious step with significant implications.”
President Duterte’s decision, sparked by the revocation of a US visa held by a former police chief who led the bloody war on drugs, takes legal effect in 180 days and US officials have expressed hope it can be reversed or delayed.
“I don’t really mind if they would like to do that, it will save a lot of money,” President Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about President Duterte’s move and whether anything could be done to get him to reconsider. “My views are different from others,” he added.
President Trump has frequently expressed a desire to bring U.S. military forces home from decades-long deployments abroad and has strong-armed some allies into paying more for the right to US defense.
He said the US had helped the Philippines defeat Islamic State militants. He said he had “a very good” relationship with President Duterte and added: “we’ll see what happens.“
Ending the VFA complicates Washington’s efforts to maintain an Asia-Pacific troop presence amid friction over the presence of US personnel in Japan and SKorea and security concerns about China and North Korea.
Secretary Esper referred to the period before President Duterte’s decision takes effect when speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
“180 days. We’ve got to work through it, and we’ll just take a deep breath and take it one day at a time … I don’t get too excited about these things. We’ve got a process we have to work through.“
Some lawmakers in the Philippines are concerned that without the VFA, 2 other pacts that make up the long-standing US alliance with Manila would be irrelevant, namely the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement made under The Obama Admin, and a 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty.
Supporters of the agreements say they have helped deter Chinese militarization in the South China Sea and $1.3-B of US defense assistance since Y 1998 has been vital in boosting the capabilities of under-resourced Philippine forces.