Marcos backs Duterte: US has to pay

Published February 19, 2021, 5:53 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Imee Marcos on Friday agreed with President Duterte’s demand for the United States to pay the Philippines for hosting American troops.

Senator Imee R. Marcos (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Marcos said the Philippines “should be better compensated” for enhancing US’ military posture in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The Philippines not only enhances the forward defense perimeter of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region but even subsidizes its utility expenses in our very own bases,” she said in a statement issued on February 15.

“When many Filipinos cannot even pay their water and electricity bills amid this pandemic, how can the Philippines continue subsidizing the utility expenses of American forces?” she asked, citing US military’s benefits under Article 7 of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The senator agrees with Malacañang’s position that the $3.9 billion that the US has given as military assistance to the Philippines from 2001 to 2017 was “paltry” compared to the $16 billion given to Pakistan in the same period.

“The US fears that if the Pakistani government fails, the 150 nuclear warheads it has produced may fall in the hands of the Taliban and could be used against America,” she said.

But she stressed: “Even superpowers need allies, and the new American pivot to the Asia-Pacific shows the enhanced role of our region and the Philippines.”

“Without the Philippines, America’s supply chain and security commitments in the region are vulnerable. But our hosting US forces makes us a potential and logical target of America’s adversaries if war breaks out in the region, even if it does not directly involve us,” she added.

“If China attacks Taiwan for its push towards independence, America’s committed response to protect Taiwan will not be as swift, having to come from bases in Japan, South Korea, Guam or Australia,” she further said.

Marcos said she expects that the US will use the human rights issues against the Duterte administration “to strike a bargain on what should strictly be a security issue.”