Duterte wants US to pay to keep military pact with Philippines

The Philippine military has worked with American counterparts to counter Beijing's expansive territorial claims in South China Sea.
The Philippine military has worked with American counterparts to counter Beijing's expansive territorial claims in South China Sea.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants the US to pay to keep a two-decade-old pact that facilitates joint military exercises, an agreement which he sought to scrap last year.

"Well, they have to pay. It's a shared responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free," Mr Duterte said on Friday (Feb 12) about the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.

"Because after all when the war breaks out, we all pay," he said in a speech to Philippine soldiers, referring to any conflict that could escalate in the South China Sea.

He didn't say what kind of payment he wanted.

Mr Duterte made the remarks days after Philippine and US officials held discussions on security cooperation, with Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying he hoped joint military exercises with the US will resume this summer, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

A year ago, Mr Duterte terminated the 1998 visiting forces pact with the US, before backtracking a few months later.

While Mr Duterte often questioned the benefits of the US alliance, the Philippine military has worked with American counterparts to counter Beijing's expansive territorial claims in South China Sea.

Separately, the Philippines' foreign affairs department said in a report posted Feb 12 on its official Twitter account that the Duterte administration has filed 60 diplomatic notes against China.

That includes a Jan 27 note on Beijing's new law allowing the Chinese coast guard to act against foreign vessels in the South China Sea.