31 Jan. 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Washington of risking regional security by constructing ‘permanent arms depots’ in his country, and threatened to scrap a bilateral deal that allows US forces to use Philippine military bases and pre-position materiel.
In a televised news conference Duterte told reporters on 29 January that the United States is bringing weapons into Palawan, Cagayan de Oro, and Pampanga to be stored permanently, which he said is in violation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by both countries in April 2014.
“They’re unloading arms in the Philippines, now I’m serving notice to the armed forces of the United States, President Duterte announced.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to the Philippines said today at a forum “We are not building a weapons depot anywhere in the Philippines,” he was attending an event organised by influential Makati Business Club. He said that facilities due to be built were to store equipment for disaster response.
He said the United States could not build anything on Philippine bases against the consent of the Philippine government, and its facilities are “not related to weapons”.
Sung said he had several lengthy discussions with top security officials including the defense minister, and promised to address some concerns. He said the alliance remained robust.
Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella declined to say what the president’s source of information was when he said American armories were being built.
“I cannot tell you that but he seems to be privy to some sort of information,” Abella told a news briefing.
“He may have come up on other confirmation that may have affected those comments’, Abella is quoted saying.