Palace: If Trump were in Duterte’s place, he would scrap VFA too


Posted at Feb 15 2020 07:26 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2020 10:00 PM

Trump ‘deserves’ re-election, Palace says, quoting Duterte

MANILA—If US President Donald Trump were the president of the Philippines, “he would have done exactly the same thing” and scrapped the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in the name of “principle and national pride,” Malacañang said Saturday.

“The President (Rodrigo Duterte) said that if President Trump were a Filipino and the Philippine President, given his character and principled stand on a matter of national interest, he would have done exactly the same thing he had done, and if he (Duterte) were the US President, he would have given the same reaction,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Duterte had ordered the termination of the VFA after the US canceled the visa of his long-time ally, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, among chief enforcers of his bloody drug war.

“The Chief Executive deemed such actions to be not only an offensive and blatant disrespect to our judicial system but an outright assault to the country’s sovereignty,” Panelo said.

“As a matter of principle and national pride, being the head of an aggrieved and insulted state, he had been compelled to take a bold, decisive and studied action.”

Trump had said he was “fine” with the termination of the military pact as it will save the US money, and touted his “very good relationship” with Duterte.

According to Panelo, Trump’s “circumspect and judicious reaction to the termination of the VFA” made [Duterte] say that “President Trump is a good president and he deserves to be re-elected.”

Washington received on Tuesday Manila’s formal notification of its intent to pull out of the agreement. The cancellation, under the agreement, would take effect 180 days after the US receives the notice.

The Philippines pushed through with the termination of the military deal even after several of its top officials warned of the consequences of doing so.

The Philippines and the US have regularly held joint military training. Washington has also provided military aid to the Filipino military through equipment donations and capability-building.