Duterte Wants Foreign Troops Out of Philippines in 2 Yearsby
Philippines will survive without U.S. help, he says in Japan
No talks with China about military alliance, Duterte says
President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted all foreign troops out of the Philippines in two years as he continued his tirades against the U.S. during his three-day visit in Japan, a key American ally.
The Philippines can do without help from the U.S., Duterte said in a speech at an economic forum in Tokyo. He reiterated calls for an independent foreign policy, and said he didn’t discuss a military alliance with China during his state visit to Beijing last week.
“Without the assistance of America, it will be a lesser quality of life," Duterte told hundreds of Philippine and Japanese business people. “But we will survive."
As many as 100 U.S. troops are in the Philippines at any given time on a rotational basis, according to the Pentagon. Duterte last month called for American soldiers to leave the southern island of Mindanao, where they had been providing training on combating terrorist groups over the past decade.
Duterte’s remarks about the Philippines relationship with the U.S. often conflict with the messages sent by members of his own administration. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Tuesday that his country will respect all treaties and associated agreements with the U.S.
“There is no reason at this time to terminate our agreements,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
The Philippines, which was an American territory for nearly 50 years until independence in 1946, is one of the closest U.S. allies in Asia. The two sides are bound by several defense pacts, including a mutual defense treaty.
The Philippines has periodically reassessed its defense relationship with the U.S., most notably in the early 1990s when a swell of anti-colonial sentiment led to the U.S. closing its military bases in the country, which at the time made up the largest American military presence in the Western Pacific.
Defense ties were boosted under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, with the nations signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The pact allows for a greater U.S. presence at Philippine military bases and the construction of new facilities within those bases.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is considered an executive agreement by both sides. It has an initial term of 10 years, though it will remain in force unless either side terminates it with a year’s notice given in writing to the other party.