Duterte to U.S.: Pay for troops to stay in PH

Mara Cepeda

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Duterte to U.S.: Pay for troops to stay in PH
'You want to come back here? You pay us. You want bases here? Pay us. Transaction tayo, pera-pera nalang tayo, mabuti pa,' says President Rodrigo Duterte on the possible abrogation of the VFA

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte once again warned of the eventual abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, saying America should pay the Philippines should it wish for its soldiers to continue staying in the country. 

“According to the Supreme Court, the VFA is… an Executive Agreement… hindi (not a) Treaty. So, start packing your things. Start packing your things and get out of my country,” said Duterte in a speech during the 38th birthday party of Senator Manny Pacquiao in General Santos City on Saturday, December 17. 

“You want to come back here? You pay us. You want bases here? Pay us. Transaction tayo, pera-pera nalang tayo, mabuti pa (Let’s just have a monetary transaction, which would be better),” he added, earning him applause from the crowd. 

Duterte made the the statement after expressing his anger on the non-renewal of a grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US aid-giving body. The tough-talking President was unfazed, saying the Philippines will “be glad to lose it.” 

In his speech on Thursday, Duterte said the Philippines does not need US troops for now.  

Wala, wala namang giyera ngayon (There’s no war now). Why would I allow you here? You want to create World War III? If you do that, if all the nuclear explosives are really – this planet is, won’t be around tomorrow. It’s the end for all of us, so why would be pick up a fight with anybody?” said Duterte.

The VFA, however, is a 1999 treaty that can only be repealed by an act of Congress. It outlined guidelines for the conduct of American troops visiting the Philippines. The agreement is the foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US, some of which the Duterte administration has already stopped. 

Demanding US soldiers?

The President also questioned why American troops supposedly demand air-conditioning units and certain food in camp.

Itong mga sundalong Amerikano, pag-uwi sa kampo, maghanap ng air-conditioned na tent. Gusto ng ham and egg. Pilipino? Walay mag-utos. Labayan mo karne norte ah, diretso na,” said Duterte.

(These American soldiers, when they arrive at camp, they look for air-conditioned tents. They want ham ang egg. But Filipinos? They will not make orders. Give them corned beef, they are okay with it.)

The President said the Philippine military is “more durable, more brave” than their American counterparts.

Walay (No) air condition pero (but) we are more durable, more brave. I tell you, do not teach us about warfare,” said Duterte.

In another speech on December 17, Duterte already talked about the possible abrogation of the VFA.  

But the President also said he might defer his decision on the VFA out of respect for US President-elect Donald Trump and new US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.