At the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, a fierce critic of the United States, the Philippines announced Tuesday that it would scrap a security pact that allows American forces to train there, NPR reported.
Duterte’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., tweeted Tuesday that the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. would be terminated — a move that could have consequences for a counterinsurgency against Islamist extremists in the country’s south.
“It’s about time we rely on ourselves. We will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country,” Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a regular press briefing, quoting Duterte.
He said Manila would be open to similar agreements with other countries. “As long as it is favorable to us and there is a mutual benefit to both countries, we are open,” he said.
The 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement exempts U.S. military personnel from passport and visa regulations when they come and go for joint exercises and training of troops in the Philippines.
The move to end the pact follows anger over Washington’s reported decision last month to cancel the U.S. visa of Philippine Sen. Ronald dela Rosa. The former chief of National Police, dela Rosa, enforced Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has killed thousands and has been widely condemned by international human rights watchdogs.