Panelo: Duterte pursuing independent foreign policy, nixes reliance on other countries


The Philippines can survive even without military support from the United States, a Palace official said Friday following the move to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the western power.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace expects the U.S. might scale down its assistance to the Philippines, but President Duterte remained confident the country could stand on its own and strengthen its defense capability.

“Palagi nagsu-survive at lalo pang gumaganda nga ang buhay natin eh (We always survive and our lives are even becoming better),” Panelo said in a television interview Friday.

Asked about the impact of the VFA termination on U.S. assistance to the country, Panelo said: “Palaging may epekto iyan. Kung dating binibigyan tayo, baka hindi na sila magbigay. Pero sabi nga ni Presidente, ‘Okay lang iyan basta tumayo na tayo nang sarili natin, huwag na tayong umasa kahit kanino,’” he said.

(There is always an effect. If we were given aid before, they might not give anymore. But as the President said, ‘That’s okay, let’s stand on our own and not rely on anyone else’),” he said.

The President recently decided to terminate the country’s military deal with the United States, which allows American troops to train Filipino personnel. A formal notice of termination has been sent to the U.S. government.

Read more: PH serves VFA termination notice to US

The latest government action came after the President denounced the alleged “inequities” in the treaty provisions as well as U.S. actions that supposedly disrespected the country’s sovereignty.

Two other deals with the United States, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) may also be dissolved in line with President’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy, according to Panalo.

He also said the President is not inclined to forge military cooperation pacts with other countries for now. “Hindi shifting alliance. Tinatanggal natin iyong alliances natin. On our own na nga eh, sarili na nga eh (We are not shifting alliances. We are removing those alliances. We’re on our own, we’re by ourselves).”

He said the President believes it is about time that “we stand on our two feet” in defending independence and sovereignty. He said the country must now strengthen its defense capability without relying too much on other nations.

“We cannot be relying on other countries to defend our nation from the enemies of the state,” Panelo said. “I’ll quote him, ‘Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? (If not now, when?) Palagi na lang tayong umaasa (We always relied on others).”

Panelo maintained that the country remained “friend to all, enemy to none” as part of the President’s foreign policy.

“But if any country threatens our territorial integrity and sovereignty, we will rise to the challenge as a nation and fight like the way the forefathers of ours did during their time,” he added.

Read more: PH can survive without VFA

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