Pres. Duterte tells US not to build permanent arms depot in PHL

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte has advised the United States not to build a "permanent" arms depot in the country.

"I am serving notice to the Armed Forces of the United States: Do not do it. I will not allow it," President Duterte said in a televised press conference late Sunday night at Malacanang Palace.

President Duterte said the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and US prohibit construction of permanent facilities.

"A depot by any other name is a depot. It's a permanent structure to house arms and I do not even know if there is a nuclear tip now that they are unloading because it is not allowed by in our country," Duterte said.

The President warned that he may ultimately abrogate the treaty altogether "since it is an executive order."

President Duterte said the US is unloading arms in the Philippines and it may put the country in "extreme danger" amid the maritime dispute in South China Sea.

"The missiles of China are pointed at the American expeditions. Their (US) depot would serve as their supply line. The Philippines will be hit first. They will hit Cagayan, Palawan and Basa," Duterte said.

He said US is egging the Philippines to use its victory in the international arbitration court which favored the Philippines' arbitration case filed against China's massive claim of South China Sea.

"The US is referring it (South China Sea) as international seas. It's not even closer to what were are claiming that it is ours which is validated by the award," President Duterte said.

President Duterte said he does not want to fight China which the Filipino leader visited in October last year and brought home USD 24 billion loans and investments deals.

"China does not like to fight and I made a commitment to President Xi Jinping, I made a solemn commitment that we will talk about this arbitral award during my term. When? I really do not know but during my term and we will talk hard," President Duterte said.

President Duterte said China has allowed the Philippines to fish in the disputed area.

"So everybody happy now. Then we start to dig for oil and other precious metals, whatever titanium or...," the President said.

"I would like to assure the President of China, Xi Jinping, that I will stand by my word," he added.

Few days ago, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed that the US has approved the construction of barracks, warehouses, and runways inside the military camps in the Philippines.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which was signed in 2014 allows the US to deploy US troops, equipment and supplies for maritime security and humanitarian operations in identified military camps in the Philippines. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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