Duterte says US starting to convert Subic into its base
President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the United States of gradually turning Subic Bay in Zambales into its military base.
In his televised message on Monday night in Davao City, Duterte said that America has many arms in the country.
"And do you know that they are slowly converting Subic into an American base?...these are the things that are known to us because I have the reports and I have also assessments given to me by the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said.
Duterte brought up the matter in relation to his call to the US to pay for the continuance of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.
The presence of American forces and their weapons in the country are part of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA as well as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement forged during the previous administration.
The US used to have military bases in Clark in Pampanga and Subic Bay in Zambales. But in 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the renewal of a military bases agreement with the US, forcing them to leave.
Duterte said the VFA "may or may not continue depending on how the Americans will behave towards us."
Last year, Duterte ordered the revocation of VFA. But with the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic last year, he suspended the process of termination until June this year.
Asked if Duterte has a fresh plan to terminate or renegotiate for EDCA, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a Zoom press briefing on Tuesday, said there was no indication yet.
"But he's (Duterte) just saying the reality now and that's the context by which he's demanding for payment. Because our military bases are really being utilized by the Americans for prepositioning of their troops and equipment," he said.
He also said that the payment that the President was demanding from the US was "generic."
"It can be anything. But what is important is the President said they have to pay," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS