US must follow Philippines' lead in EDCA: Duterte

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY -- The United States must follow the Philippines' lead in the implementation of a military agreement that would allow more American troops in the country, presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), negotiated by the Aquino administration, was set to be implemented this year after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in January.

READ: SC rules EDCA is constitutional

"...EDCA must follow the guidelines prescribed by our Armed Forces," Duterte told reporters.

"They (US forces) could not use any other place without the knowledge or until there is advice from the Armed Forces," he said, referring to US forces.

Aquino sought to strengthen ties with long-time ally Washington to counter China's expansion in the disputed South China Sea. United States President Barack Obama, in turn, is seeking to reassert America's influence in the Pacific.

Duterte has bothered US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg for joking about the 1989 rape of an Australian missionary in Davao.

READ: Duterte risks chill in US-PH ties with trash talk

A defiant Duterte shot back, saying he was willing to cut ties with the US. He has also promised to ride a jet ski to China's artificial islands to assert the Philippine claim.