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Trump trying to save VFA: Duterte

By Azer Parrocha

 

MANILA — US President Donald Trump is “trying to save” the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the US and Philippines from being terminated, President Rodrigo Duterte bared on Monday.

Despite Trump’s efforts, Duterte said he refused to change his position to scrap the agreement stressing that American lawmakers were “rude” for demanding the release of Senator Leila de Lima who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City due to her involvement in illegal drugs.

“Si Trump pati yung (and the) others are trying to save the Visiting Forces Agreement. Sabi ko ayaw ko (I said I didn’t want to). One is that napaka bastos ng Amerikano. Talagang sobrang bastos (Americans are so rude. They’re really rude),” Duterte said in a speech during an assembly with governors and mayors in Pasay City.

“Imagine demanding the release of de Lima and the threat that we will not receive the aid at may (and there’s a) collatila that all persons that had a hand in the imprisonment of De Lima will not be allowed to go to the United States. What is there in America?” he said.

Duterte also slammed the American senators for criticizing his administration’s aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs and claiming that he killed thousands of innocent people.

“Tapos EJK. Wala man. Nagsabi pinatay ko daw. Sino man pinatay ko (And then extrajudicial killings. There’s none. They say I killed them. Who did I kill)?” Duterte said.

“Sinabi ko (I said) ‘do not destroy my country because if you destroy my country I will kill you’,” he added.

He lamented that the American lawmakers had gone too far in insulting the Philippine government saying it is “bordering the thrashing of our sovereignty”.

“Sumobra e (They went too far). So somebody has to remind them,” Duterte said.

He also lamented how the VFA failed to help local troops defeat the communist insurgency in the Philippines.

“We’ve been fighting the communist for 53-years. Kung nakatulong talaga ang America, p*t*ng*n* naman hanggang ngayon (If they were really of help, why do we have this until now)? Duterte said.

He also stressed that he still lost police and soldiers to wars every day.

In an earlier Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte is still firm in his decision to terminate the VFA emphasizing that he felt that the actions made by US lawmakers were as good as “assaulting” the country’s sovereignty.

Panelo said he could not tell what it would take for the President to change his mind.

Meanwhile, Duterte admitted that he did not know if nuclear arms were brought in by the US into the Philippines.

“We will be hit because the arms are here and I really do not know…walang (there’s no) accounting if there are already nuclear arms inside the Philippines brought in by the Americans,” Duterte said.

Last month, the US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood bared that the US military deployed a new submarine-launched low-yield nuclear weapon which several former high-ranking administration officials warned could increase the potential for nuclear conflict. (PNA)

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