By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Philippines is not shifting but ending alliances when it abrogated the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States may likewise go down the drain as President Duterte is determined to enable the Philippines to finally stand on its own.
“Kung iyon ang posisyon ni Presidente na hindi niya na kailangan ang alliances sa iba at tumayo na tayo nang sarili natin, eh talagang mawawala lahat iyan (If the President’s position is we do not need alliances with other countries and we need to stand on our own, then those other treaties may also be terminated, too),” he said.
“Hindi shifting alliance; tinatanggal natin iyong alliances natin (It’s not shifting alliances; we’re ending them). ‘On our own’ na nga, eh,” he added.
According to Panelo, President Duterte thought it was time to end the VFA because the Philippines may never be self-reliant if it did not scrap the agreement.
“It is about time we stand on our own two feet. We cannot be relying on other countries to defend our nation from the enemies of the state. I’ll quote him (President Duterte), ‘Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa (If not now, when)?'” he said.
“If you do that (retain the agreement), iyong depensa natin ay lalong humihina kasi nakaasa tayo eh. Eh paano kung bigla tayong iniwan? So tama si Presidente (Our defense will weaken because we always rely on them. What if one day they decide to leave us? So the President is right): We have to strengthen our own resources. We have to be ourselves,” he added.
Panelo maintained the Philippines will be “friends to all and enemies to none.” However, he said that the country will rise to the challenge as a nation and fight the way the Filipino forefathers did if any country threatens the Philippines’ territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“Kung noong panahon naman eh, ano bang ginamit natin? Bola lang tapos nabago. Ganoon din ang gagawin (Before we only had balls as weapons and we just improved them. We’ll do the same),” he said.
“Kaya nga papalakasin natin ang puwersa natin, eh ‘di mag-uumpisa tayong bumili ng mga high-tech weapons (That’s why we need to strengthen our forces and start to acquire high-tech weapons),” he added.
President Duterte announced the termination of the VFA last month following the cancellation of Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa. But Malacañang explained the visa cancellation was an accumulation of a series of “disrespectful acts” by some US senators.
The President also mentioned in one of his talks that without asking permission from the government, a US submarine was detected by the Philippine Navy in the waters of Palawan lately.