Duterte ‘needs US troops’
– A top US commander yesterday warned ending a security pact with the Philippines would hurt counter-terrorism efforts in the country’s restive south, putting him at odds with commander-in-chief Donald Trump.
Washington’s top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson, said he hoped Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to scrap a deal allowing US forces to be based in the country would be rethought.
Manila has given “180 day notice so we have some time for diplomatic efforts”, Davidson said at an event in Sydney. “I hope we can get to a successful outcome.”
Trump has said he would be “fine” with the end of the visiting forces agreement as it would save the United States “a lot of money”.
But Davidson insisted the move would hamper military operations in Duterte’s home island of Mindanao, where separatist and Islamist violence has killed about 100 000 people.
“Our ability to help the Philippines in their counter-violent extremist fight in the south, our ability to train and operate within the Philippines and with Philippines armed forces would be challenged without that visiting forces agreement,” he warned.