President Duterte told the United States of America (USA) that they must pay if they want to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines.
Duterte made the statement as he led the inspection of newly delivered air assets in Clark, Pampanga Friday, February 12.
In his speech, Duterte reminded the Americans that the military pact between the two countries is a “shared responsibility.”
“I’d like to put on notice– if there’s an American agent here– that from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? You have to pay,” he said.
“It’s a shared responsibility. But, your share of responsibility does not come free because, after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay. You, kami (us),” he added.
Duterte was referring to the situation in the West Philippine Sea, saying the Americans know that their nearest possible inconvenient outpost would be the eastern side of the Philippines and Palawan.
“I hope they understand we are nearest to a theater of war,” he said.
In December last year, President Duterte warned the United States that he will proceed with the abrogation of the VFA if the latter fails to produce 20 million doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines for the Philippines.
“Iyong Visiting Forces Agreement, matatapos na. Ngayon kapag hindi ako pumayag aalis talaga sila (The VFA is about to end. Now if I don’t agree with the terms, they will have to get out),” he said Saturday evening.
“Kung hindi sila maka-deliver, maski na a (Now, if they fail to deliver even just a) minimum of 20 million [doses of] vaccines, they better get out. No vaccine, no stay here,” he added.
The VFA, signed in 1998 and ratified the following year, allows joint trainings between American and Filipino soldiers in the Philippines and governs the conduct of US troops while they are in the country.
In February last year, President Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA after the US revoked the visa of his close ally Senator Ronald Dela Rosa and after the ban on the entry of officials supposedly behind the arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
In June 2020, President Duterte suspended the termination of the VFA due to “political and other developments in the region.” Last month, the government suspended the abrogation anew but negotiations continue.