Philippines’ U-turn on U.S. pact

Security issues in the disputed South China Sea helped convince the Philippines to delay quitting a key U.S. military pact, the nation’s envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

The government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday it had suspended plans to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a deal that is important to Washington’s moves to counter Beijing’s rising regional power.

Mr. Duterte has cosied up to China in search of trade and investment, sparking U.S. concern that its long-time ally and former colony would change sides in a strategic boost to Beijing.

“Because of security issues... in that part of the world (South China Sea), both our governments have seen it would be prudent for us to simply suspend any implementation of the termination,” Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez told ANC news channel.

Since taking power in 2016, Mr. Duterte has moved closer to Beijing, but has faced push back from the Philippine public and concern in the military wary of its territorial ambitions in the disputed South China Sea.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:54:02 AM |

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