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Philippine foreign secretary warns Duterte against breaking security deal with US

EPA/CERILO EBRANO -- BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit at the wake of killed soldiers in Davao city, southern Philippines, 07 August 2016. Duterte read out a list of local government officials and police officers allegedly involved in illegal drugs trading, according to media reports. Included in the president's list were judges, mayors, congressmen, and both high-ranking and low-ranking police officers and ordered the suspects to report to the Philippine National Police headquarters within 24 hours. Duterte's war on illegal drugs have resulted in more than 600 suspected drug traders and users to be killed and more than 100,000 people surrendering to authorities during the first month of his campaign.

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The Philippine foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warned that abrogating a security accord with the United States would undermine his country’s security and foster aggression in the disputed South China Sea.
Last month, the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte threatened to give notice to the US to terminate the deal, if the reported cancellation of the visa of his political ally, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, was not corrected within a month.
The Visiting Forces Agreement allows American forces to train in the Philippines. They have provided intelligence, training and aid that allowed the Philippines to deal with human trafficking, cyberattacks, illegal narcotics and terrorism. They also helped Filipino end a siege by Islamic State group-aligned militants in 2017.
“I’m warning you. if you won’t do the correction on this, I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement”, Duterte said in a a speech on 23 January.
Dela Rosa served as Duterte’s first national police chief and enforcer of the deadly anti-drugs crackdown in 2016, in which thousands of mostly poor suspects have been killed, angering the West and human rights watchdogs.
“While the Philippines has the prerogative to terminate the VFA anytime, the continuance of the agreement is deemed to be more beneficial to the Philippines compared to any predicates were it to be terminated”, Locsin said.
He added that US military presence has also blocked aggressive actions in the disputed South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Vietnam and three other governments have rival claims to the strategic waterway. Locsin also reminded that the Philippines has received more than half-a-billion dollars in security assistance from the US from 2016 to 2019.

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