Duterte says geopolitic­s, vaccine supply prompted him to retain US military pact

- By Samuel P. Medenilla @sam_medenilla

PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday said the country would keep its close ties with the US despite recent calls of some American lawmakers for a probe into the government’s war against illegal drugs.

During his latest public address, Duterte disclosed that the country maintains close affinity with the US government due to a similar “outlook in geopolitic­s in South East Asia.”

He issued the statement after he decided just last week to retract his earlier abrogation of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US government.

Duterte said he opted to keep the VFA as “concession” for US’S donation of 3 million doses of anti-covid-19 vaccine.

This was on top of the 1.6 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine received by the country from the US government through the Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.

“I would like to thank United States President Biden for not forgetting us,” Duterte said.

To recall, Duterte said he wanted the abolition of the VFA, which allows US military forces to enter the country’s territory, after the cancellati­on of the US tourist visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa due to his alleged involvemen­t in extrajudic­ial killings of drug suspects.

The abrogation proceeding­s was initiated in February 2020, but was suspended due to the pandemic.

Last February Duterte said the US government must “pay” if it wants to maintain the VFA.

While he thanked the US government for its donation, he warned the State Department against any investigat­ion on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“I would like to say something about the State Department. Be careful. Be careful with what you are planning to do there because you yourself your country is—not just was—but is guilty of so many violations of human rights,” Duterte said.

At least 11 US Senators requested to the US State Department through a letter to look into the supposed “inhumane” drug war in the country.

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