'Very unlikely' for US to position troops, weapons in PH amid Ukraine war: Lorenzana

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2022 01:27 PM

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MANILA— It is "very unlikely" the United States will position their troops and weapons in the Philippines even if President Rodrigo Duterte offered the country's facilities when Russia's invasion of Ukraine "spills over" to Asia, the defense ministry said Thursday. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the President approved the use of the country's facilities in Clark, Pampanga in case the US "get engaged in war." 

But given the country's geographic location from Ukraine and Russia, such situation is far-fetched, he said, adding that Korea and Turkey are strategically nearer in the conflict compared to the Philippines.

"Last... na tayo kung sakali man dahil nga ino-offer ng Presidente yung kuwan para sa kanila. It is very unlikely na magpo-position sila ng maraming tropa dito tsaka maraming equipment," said Lorenzana in a televised briefing.

(We are the last option if ever, even if the President offered the facilities for them. It is very unlikely they will position their troops and equipment here.)

"Ang sabi ko naman sa kanya 'Mr. President, malayo naman siguro mangyari 'yan kasi unang-una napakalayo natin. Kung kailangang, kung nangangailangan lang 'yung America ng mga paglalagyan ng mga equipment tsaka mga tao bago sila makipag-ano doon sa Ukraine, mayroong malapit na bansa diyan'" the defense chief added.

(I told him, 'Mr. President, there are slim chances it could happen because we are far. If ever the US really needed the equipment to be positioned somewhere to go to war and respond to Ukraine, there are nearer countries there.)

Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez in early March said Duterte was "ready to offer whatever facilities" US might need "without any restrictions."

The US is the Philippines' only defense ally. A Mutual Defense Treaty binds the two countries together, obligating both sides to help each other in case of external aggression. 

The two countries celebrated 75 years of diplomatic ties last year. 

The country had condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying that there was no need for the unnecessary bloodshed there.