Duterte urged to assert sovereignty vs China after scrapping VFA with US

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2020 01:04 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2020 04:30 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should also be able to assert Manila's sovereignty against China after the Philippines initiated moves to end one of its military pacts with the United States, exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison said Saturday.

"Otherwise, the scrapping of the military agreements with the US would be considered as merely favoring Chinese imperialism and the surrender of the West Philippine Sea to China," Sison, who is based in The Netherlands, said in a Facebook post.

Since assuming office in 2016, Duterte has adopted a friendlier stance towards China despite lingering disputes over the South China Sea, which Beijing claims in near entirety.

Last Tuesday, Washington received Manila’s formal notification of its intent to pull out of the Visiting Forces Agreement. The Philippines pushed through with the termination even after several of its top officials warned of the consequences of doing so.

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, which several US lawmakers have criticized.

Should Duterte fight the world's largest economies, he would "deserve commendation as the president fundamentally different from and superior to all his predecessors in terms of patriotism," Sison said.

"The problem is that the line of least resistance for him is to remain a puppet of imperialism and tyrant to his own people," he added.

Sison urged Duterte to terminate all of the country's military agreements with the US, "instead of wasting public funds for heavy military expenditures and corruption."

"Scrapping all the military agreements with the US would truly assert national sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

"But this must be complemented by national industrialization and genuine land reform in order to ensure the support of the Filipino people and their revolutionary movement."

The VFA, signed in 1998 to govern the conduct of American troops in the Philippines, is anchored on Manila and Washington's 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The allies also signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement in 2014.