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Philippines' Duterte orders termination of military agreement with US

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-02-08 09:52
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends a plenary session at a regional summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin to notify Washington about the intention of Manila to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Friday.

"President Duterte is instructing Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea to tell Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin to send the notice of termination to the US government," said Panelo in a text message to reporters.

Panelo said Duterte is also scheduled to speak with US President Donald Trump through a phone call "soon." He did not elaborate when the telephone call will take place.

In a text message to the local media, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said, "The president said he is terminating the VFA. I asked for clarification and he said he is not changing his decision."

Panelo's announcement came after Locsin told the Senate that Duterte ordered him to send the termination notice.

"I have prepared a notice of termination but it has not been sent upon the orders of the president," Locsin said in a Senate hearing Thursday.

Under the two-decade military pact between the Philippines and the United States, the VFA can be terminated via a written notice from either of the countries. Expiration will come 180 days from the time either party notifies the other.

Duterte last week reiterated he wanted to scrap the agreement that allows US forces to participate in large-scale military drills in the Philippines.

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