Potus Trump Says ‘It’s Fine’ If Philippines Quits Military Agreement
Trump Says ‘It’s Fine’ If Philippines Quits Military Agreement
‘I really don’t mind,’ Trump says about end of 1988 accord
Duterte’s move seen as helping improve ties with China
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he “didn’t mind” that the Philippine government terminated a military agreement with the U.S., a day after Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the decision a “move in the wrong direction.”
“I really don’t mind, if they would like to do that, that’s fine,” Trump said Wednesday during a meeting with Ecuador President Lenin Moreno at the White House. “We’ll save a lot of money. You know my views are different from other people. I view it as, ‘Thank you very much, we’ll save a lot of money.’”
Trump added that he had a good relationship with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and said the U.S. had helped the Southeast Asian nation combat Islamic State terrorists over the past decade.
The decision to terminate the agreement was seen as a pivot by Duterte’s government toward China and could complicate U.S. efforts to contest Beijing’s influence in the South China Sea. The Pentagon has vowed to shift more resources toward the Indo-Pacific to help counter China as part of what it views as the coming “great power” competition with Beijing and Moscow.
The president’s remarks represented a sharp departure from the position of the Pentagon, with Esper telling reporters en route to a NATO conference in Brussels on Tuesday that “it’s a move in the wrong direction, again for the long-standing relationship we’ve had with the Philippines, for their strategic location, for the ties between our peoples and our countries.”
The 1988 Visiting Forces Agreement allows U.S. military aircraft and ships free entry into the Philippines and relaxes visa and passport policies. The change in the 22-year-old military agreement will not go into immediate effect because of a 180-day wind-down built into the agreement.
At least two other accords also govern military relations between the nations. A Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1951, five years after the U.S. granted the Philippines independence, and it has been at the center of defense relations ever since. The eight-article pact -- one of seven collective defense treaties the U.S. has globally -- calls for each side to help build defense capabilities and “meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes” if either side is attacked.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2014, allows for a greater U.S. presence at Philippine military bases and the construction of new facilities there.https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-12/trump-says-it-s-fine-if-philippines-quits-military-agreement?fbclid=IwAR0R6l9BMyGRsgN0eExOntdc2GW6hNiQ9KrylhmjCcHTiS_CHUtxUtZ_FqE