Don’t Bring Nukes to Our Soil, Duterte Says as He Threatens to Scrap US-Philippines Military Deal
© REUTERS / ELOISA LOPEZ
ASIA & PACIFIC 12:30 GMT 01.03.2021(updated 12:34 GMT 01.03.2021)Get short URL by Oleg Burunov
Last month, Rodrigo Duterte underscored the need to strengthen the Philippines’ “own defences” as he instructed the government to consider scrapping the Manila-Washington Visiting Forces Agreement.
President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to be quick to scrap a Washington-Manila military deal if US nuclear weapons are deployed in the Philippines.
“I have made a declaration that we will adopt an independent foreign policy […] I assured China that I will not allow nuclear armaments of America to be stored in the Philippines”, Duterte said during a press conference at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay on Monday.
The conference was held after the president attended a ceremony to welcome the arrival of the initial 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, delivered by a Chinese military aircraft to Manila earlier in the day.
When asked about the possibility of US nukes being stored in his country, Duterte recalled that the Philippines Constitution prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on the Asian nation’s soil.
“We do not want it […] but I am warning you that if I get hold of […] information that nuclear armaments are here brought by you [US], I will immediately ask you to go out and I will terminate the [US-Philippines] Visiting Forces Agreement [VFA] immediately”, the president warned.
The statement comes after presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in early February that the president had instructed the government to terminate the VFA, saying the time has come “to rely on ourselves”.
“We will strengthen our own defences and not rely on any other country”, Duterte pointed out.
The Philippine leader has repeatedly slammed American politicians for criticising his war on drugs and even banned several US lawmakers from entering the country.
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He rejected their accusations of human rights violations by Philippine police that allegedly took place during the campaign, stating that his country doesn’t require any interference by the international community.
The VFA, which came into force on 27 May 1999, regulates relations between the US military in the Philippines and Manila. The US has maintained a military presence in the Philippines since the country gained formal independence in 1945 and has permitted US Naval, Air Force, and Army bases to be stationed throughout the islands.