President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the Philippines will terminate a security agreement with the U.S. The Visiting Forces Agreement will be scrapped, with Duterte claiming his country needs to build up their own defenses. Between 2016 and 2019, $550 million in military assistance was provided by the U.S. to the Philippines. They’ve conducted joint military exercises with Filipino troops, some of which include Japanese and Australian forces. 100 U.S. Special Forces troops are kept in Mindanao on a rotating basis to help Manila fight against terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, and other groups linked in the Islamic State. “It’s about time we rely on ourselves. We will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country,” commented presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo. They mentioned that the Philippines would be open to similar agreements with other countries so long as it is beneficial to themselves. The U.S. Embassy in Manila has responded that this recent decision will have serious implications, and the U.S. is considering how to move forward.
The Crossroads of Special Operations