Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines, South China Sea

Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines

Philippines Backs Off Threat to Terminate Military Pact With U.S.

In February President Rodrigo Duterte had angrily sought to end the Visiting Forces Agreement, seen as a buffer against Chinese power. Analysts saw the reversal as a sign of new wariness toward China.

6/3/2020 9:00:00 AM

In a strategic setback for China, the Philippines government reversed itself Tuesday and said it would maintain a longstanding military pact with the United States that President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized as unfair

In February President Rodrigo Duterte had angrily sought to end the Visiting Forces Agreement, seen as a buffer against Chinese power. Analysts saw the reversal as a sign of new wariness toward China.

June 2, 2020MANILA — In a strategic setback for China, the Philippines government reversed itself Tuesday and said it would maintain a longstanding military pact with the United States that President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized as unfair.The Philippine foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin, made Tuesday’s announcement

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over Twitter, saying that he had informed Washington in a diplomatic note. The decision not to terminate the agreement was made “in light of political and other developments in the region,” Mr. Locsin said in the diplomatic note, without elaboration.The United States welcomed the reversal. “Our longstanding alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines,” the United States Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Political analysts interpreted the reversal as a sign that China’s neighbors are worried about its growing military assertiveness. The Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia all have disputes with China about its territorial claims in the South China Sea.Some analysts saw the reversal as a strategic gain for the United States, given that the Philippines is the only U.S. treaty ally bordering the South China Sea, a vital maritime shipping route.

“In light of China’s continued assertion of its historic rights in Vietnamese and Malaysian waters over the last year, Manila may have concluded that its previous rapprochement with Beijing would not protect Philippine interests,” said M. Taylor Fravel, a political-science professor who is director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it remained unclear how the move by the Philippines to at least temporarily prolong the pact, known as the Visiting Forces Agreement, would affect the country’s South China Sea policy. But she also saw it as a setback for China.

“Beijing has long sought to weaken U.S. alliances, and has benefited from the friction in recent years in U.S.-Philippine relations,” she said. “So a decision by Manila to suspend plans to terminate the V.F.A. will be seen as contrary to Chinese interests.”

There was no immediate comment from China on the Philippines’s decision.In February, Mr. Duterte hadordered the terminationof the Visiting Forces Agreement, endangering a security blanket for the Philippines, which has been facing increasingly hostile Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Under the agreement, Washington and Manila had 180 days after the issuance of a termination notice — until August, in this case — to try to salvage the deal.

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The pact permitted the United States military to conduct large-scale joint exercises in the Philippines, decades after the Americans were evicted from naval bases north of Manila because of lease disagreements.Mr. Duterte’s decision to end the military alliance had followed Washington’s refusal t

o grant a visato the Philippine lawmaker, Ronald dela Rosa, the early architect of Mr. Duterte’s violent war against drugs.The notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement came as Mr. Duterte was warming up to China while distancing himself from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler, and alarmed those in his administration who saw the alliance as a cornerstone of Philippine security and a counterweight to China’s growing regional naval might.

Mr. Duterte had been lashing out at the United States, saying that it had always gotten the better of the pact. He also had complained that American troops took their modern weapons with them after the military exercises.He called the Americans “ill mannered” and cursed Central Intelligence Agency agents who he said may have been bugging his phone.

Mr. Duterte had also dismissed the deterrent effect of American forces against China, with which the Philippines has overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. “They do not mean harm,” he said of China and its military, as long as “we do not also do something that is harmful to them.”

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, Philippine forces have received training from their American counterparts to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. Hundreds of joint exercises are conducted annually.Jose Antonio Custodio, a military historian at the Institute of Policy, Strategy and Development Studies, a Philippine think tank, said that many of Mr. Duterte’s own allies had not been enthusiastic about ending the treaty, and potentially a military alliance that stretched back to 1951.

Mr. Custodio said that Manila needed the alliance more than the United States did, adding that the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic would “wallop” the Philippines’ ability to maintain and modernize its armed forces. Read more: The New York Times »

Only suspended it. Nice news, the US and Southeast Asian countries should contain Chinese expansion in the South China Sea Suddenly realized they might want the power of the US, in case Xi & the PRC have more ideas on the Philippines islands and waters. Guessing Duterte got some major concessions. I follow back immediately

American are the best. American army kill children and citizen in Syria. Now they want a war in Asian, Good for you ! Back off CCP, those islands are closer to the Philippines than China Americans need prayer right now OF COURSE! Du30 would back out! He and Trump have some sort of similarities! Including: 'shoot them dead' by DU30, and 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' by Trump. THEY LOVE GUNS!

😮😮😮 🤔🤔 🙂 1. ... ' it would maintain a longstanding military pact ' ... 🙂 2. Fiti seriosi! 3. x to land, journey / Castaneda. . Right now this is good news for U.S./filipino relations. But I’m concerned by this criticism and where it might lead. We are mere puppets of either of the two countries. Just that the President is besties with one of them. A lot of Chinese violators were arrested here but there were no immediate actions done by the gov't.

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Philippines suspends abrogation of defense pact with U.S.The Philippine president is suspending his decision to terminate a key defense pact with the United States, at least temporarily avoiding a major blow to one of America’s oldest alliances in Asia. ……… WOW!! U.S. should stop any deals with Duterte’s Administration?

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