Tag Archives: Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change, by Walden Bello

The US empire will probably break up little by little, as the British empire did. From Walden Bello at antiwar.com:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of a key military pact with the United States, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which governed the deployment of US troops in the country, has evoked varied responses. In some liberal and progressive circles, the move provoked trepidation owing to Duterte’s perceived closeness to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Others were disoriented by the fact that the agent of a change they had long wanted had also been responsible for thousands of extrajudicial executions in his “war on drugs.” Adding to the confusion was President Donald Trump’s facetious reaction to Duterte’s move, saying “it’ll save us money.”

It cannot be denied, however, that the termination of VFA was a positive, historic step from the point of view of the national interest of the Philippines. In recent years, much local attention has focused on China’s incursions and outright grabbing of maritime formations claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea, officially renamed by the Philippine government as the West Philippine Sea. Like many U.S. dependencies, the Philippines has had a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with Washington that dates back to the Cold War era and serves as the legal touchstone of the VFA. Not surprisingly, as frictions with China increased, Philippine presidents from Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s to Benigno Aquino III in more recent years invoked the MDT to get the United States to back up the Philippines’ territorial and resource claims in the Spratly Islands group. In response, Washington has consistently said that the MDT does not obligate the United States to support the Philippines’ territorial claims because it “does not interfere in sovereignty issues.” Essentially, Washington was saying, “you’re on your own” as far as the Spratly Islands were concerned.

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If Duterte Wants Us Out, Let’s Go, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Why would we defend a country that doesn’t want us to defend it? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has just given us notice he will be terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs U.S. military personnel in the islands.

His notification starts the clock running on a six-month deadline. If no new agreement is negotiated, the VFA is dissolved.

What triggered the decision?

Duterte was offended that one of his political allies who led his anti-drug campaign in the islands, which involves extrajudicial killings of drug dealers, had been denied a U.S. visa.

Yet, Duterte has never been an enthusiast of the U.S. presence. In 2016, he told his Chinese hosts in Beijing: “I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out.”

The Pentagon is shaken. If there is no VFA, how do we continue to move forces in and out to guarantee our ability to honor the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty? Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Duterte’s action “a step in the wrong direction.”

President Donald Trump openly disagreed: “If they would like to do that, that’s fine. We’ll save a lot of money.”

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