Duterte questions EDCA: Aquino did not sign it


Posted at Oct 02 2016 06:50 PM | Updated as of Oct 03 2016 01:11 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the opening of the 37th MassKara Festival in Bacolod City on October 2. Rey Baniquet, Malacanang Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he will ask for a review of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), noting that the document does not bear the signature of former president Benigno Aquino III.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 37th Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, Duterte once again lashed out at the United States, accusing it of pretending to be a friend of the Philippines but continuously criticizing it.

"What would be my defense if you pretend to be a friend of the Philippines? Ang Amerika, pati ang human rights ng United Nations, kung bira-birahan ka at wala ka nang magawa, kasi solo nila ang international press. Ang iyong sagot, hindi aabot 'yan," he said, reiterating that he did not say anything bad against U.S. President Barack Obama.

He also said he will be opening the country to China and Russia in reaction to criticisms from the U.S.

"I will open up another front sa ating foreign policy. Kung gaano kabastos ang ginawa mo, binabastos mo ako. Well, sabi ko, hiwalay hiwalay na lang tayo," Duterte said.

Duterte, likewise, said he will be reviewing the EDCA, which he said was only signed by former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and an "aide."

"Itong EDCA, it is an official document, but it was only signed by an aide at si Gazmin. It does not bear the signature of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Aquino. Walang pirma si Aquino. Better think twice now because I would be asking you to leave the Philippines altogether," Duterte said.

"Hindi kami magugutom. We will get out and after review of that document and if I find that there is no signature, if you cannot produce a signature bearing the permit to you, mag-conduct conduct kayo rito ng ano, pati 'yang war games," he added.

The EDCA, which was signed in 2014, aimed to bolster the alliance between the U.S. and the Philippines. It also allows the U.S. to send troops to the Philippines, as well as build and operate facilities on Philippine bases to be used by both Philippine and American troops.

It was signed by Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg.

Duterte has earlier announced that the 2016 military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines this month will be the last one.

Foreigh Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., however, said that the Philippines will respect its military agreements with the United States, including scheduled war games, despite what Duterte said.

The annual Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) will be held from October 4 to 12 in multiple locations in Luzon, including Palawan, which fronts reefs and outcrops that are being contested by Manila and Beijing, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement.