Philippines says will withdraw from US military pact
Manila: The Philippines told the US on Tuesday it was quitting a pact key to their historical military alliance, triggering a six-month countdown to the deal’s termination.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his cabinet to give notice to quit the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after voicing anger over Washington cancelling the visa of the official who led his internationally condemned drug war.
The move also follows Duterte’s repeated, unfulfilled threats to shrink or even sever the nation’s ties with its former colonial master and most important military ally.
The 1998 VFA is the legal framework for the presence of US troops on Philippine soil and is central to hundreds of annual, joint military exercises, which are a major component of their deep military ties.
The pact requires a 180-day notice to quit, which will likely set off a period of negotiation between the two countries.
“This is a serious step with significant implications for the US-Philippines alliance,” the US embassy in Manila said in a statement.
“We will carefully consider how best to move forward to advance our shared interests.”
The VFA is divisive in the Philippines, with leftist and nationalist critics long arguing it guarantees special treatment for US service members accused of crimes. – AFP