On Friday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the US “will have to pay” to keep the agreement that allows US troops to be stationed in the Philippines on a rotational basis, known as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Duterte made the comments during a speech to Philippine troops. “I’d like to put on notice if there is an American agent here, from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? You have to pay,” he said. “It is a shared responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free, after all, when the war breaks out we all pay.”
Duterte was ready to scrap the VFA and kick the US out of his country last year but reversed the decision citing tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea. On Friday, the Philippine president made it clear that he was still reluctant to allow the US military in his country.
“(The US) is free to advance their troops in our land … We do not like it because we want to remain neutral,” he said. “But the exigency of the moment requires their presence here, I am okay with that.”
On Monday, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said officials from the US and the Philippines are expected to meet and work out their differences over the VFA. The agreement was temporarily extended while the two countries work our a more permanent pact.