Philippines can go to Russia or China once VFA is scrapped, Palace official says
The Philippines could seek military cooperation with China or Russia once the Visiting Forces Agreement ( VFA) with the United States is terminated, a Malacanang official said on Monday.
In an interview by ANC, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar said this was the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte when he was interviewed last week by the Russian media in Malacanang.
"Based on the statement of the President when he was interviewed by the Russian press, he did say that we can go to Russia, we can go to China for assistance in battling these terrorists and other issues that arise from international terrorists," he said.
He reiterated Duterte's stance of having an independent foreign policy and his prerogative to be friends with other countries, like China and Russia.
"Now, if he wants to open our country to being friends with other superpowers like the People’s Republic of China and Russia, then so be it," he added.
Duterte earlier ordered concerned government officials to start the process of abrogating the over two-decade-old VFA with the US.
He came out with a decision after America canceled Senator Ronald dela Rosa's visa.
Dela Rosa was Duterte's chief cop when he assumed the presidency in 2016. The former Philippine National Police chief started the implementation of Duterte's war on drugs, which resulted in the death of over 5,000 individuals already since he assumed the presidency.
The Duterte administration has been criticized here and abroad for the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.
The US included in its 2020 Budget Law a provision that bars Philippine officials responsible for human rights violations, including the continued detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte.
Andanar denied observation by some quarters that the President's decision to terminate the treaty with the US was a whim.
"It’s not on a whim, for the fact that the past governments, past administration have really been very… I would say supportive in a way that already giving the United States a free hand on whatever they want our government to do. It is a way for the President to say that, ‘look, we are an independent country.’ Since the 1940’s we're already independent and we should stop being a lap dog of the United States," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS