No VFA? Manila can seek military aid from Russia, China: Palace official

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Posted at Jan 27 2020 10:18 AM | Updated as of Jan 27 2020 01:11 PM

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MANILA - The Philippines can seek military assistance from Russia or China should it end its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, a Palace official said Monday.

Manila on Friday said it has begun the process of ending the VFA upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, who wanted to halt the deal after Washington canceled the visa of his former police chief, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

The VFA, which covers the conduct of American soldiers in the Philippines, is among military agreements between the Philippines and the US.

"He (Duterte) did say that we can go to Russia, we can go to China for assistance in battling these terrorists," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told ANC's Headstart.

"It's the prerogative of the President, if he wants our country to be friends with other superpowers like the People’s Republic of China and Russia then so be it."

Andanar said the President's decision was a "matter of the Philippines sending a message to the US that we are not succumbing to their neo-colonialism."

"The past administrations have been, I would say, supportive in a way that already giving the US a free hand on whatever they want our government to do," he said.

"It is a way for our President to say look, we are an independent country and so we should stop being a lapdog of the United States."

Former Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. had said Manila will be "the biggest loser" should it end its VFA with Washington as it will lose military training exercises and assistance as China continues its militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

"It will embolden China even more considering even with the MDT (Military Defense Treaty), the VFA, they have militarized those 3 reefs they grabbed from the Philippines," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"What I think the US will say is if that’s what you want then fine but please be aware of what the consequences are. I don’t think the US is gonna beg us. I think we will be the biggest loser, not the US."

The US and China, the world's two largest economies currently embroiled in a trade war, have exchanged barbs over what Washington said is Beijing's militarization of the disputed sea.

Beijing's ally Russia and the US, the world's largest nuclear powers, have squabbled over various issues including tensions in Syria, the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and allegations of election meddling.