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Philippines Duterte terminates troop pact in blow to U.S.
Karen Lema, Martin Petty | FEBRUARY 11, 2020

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday announced the termination of a two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States (VFA), delivering on threats to downgrade an alliance important to U.S. interests.

The mercurial Duterte, who has clashed with the former colonial ruler over several issues, decided to pull the plug on the two-decade troop rotation pact to enable the Philippines to be more independent in its relations with other countries, spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“The president will not entertain any initiative coming from the U.S. government to salvage the VFA, neither will he accept any official invitation to visit the United States,” Panelo said in a statement.

The decision, sparked by the revocation of a U.S. visa held by a former police chief who led Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, could complicate U.S. military interests in the Asia-Pacific region as China’s ambitions rise.

It would also limit Philippine access to U.S. training and expertise in tackling Islamist extremism, natural disasters and maritime security threats.

Panelo said Duterte’s decision was a consequence of U.S. legislative and executive actions that “bordered on assaulting our sovereignty and disrespecting our judicial system”.

The U.S. embassy in Manila called it “a serious step with significant implications”.

“We will carefully consider how best to move forward to advance our shared interests,” it said in a statement.

Given the importance of the alliance with the Philippines in broader U.S. strategy, Washington still hopes the decision will be reversed or delayed before it takes legal effect in 180 days.

In Washington, a senior Trump administration official voiced disappointment over the decision.

“The United States shares a long history with the government and people of the Philippines and recognizes that regional and global security is best served through the strong partnership that is enabled by the Visiting Forces Agreement,” the official said.

“We will continue to work with our Philippine government partners to strengthen this relationship in a way that benefits both our countries.”

The VFA is important to the overall U.S.-Philippines alliance and sets out rules for U.S. soldiers to operate in the Philippines. It underpins what Washington has called an “ironclad” relationship despite Duterte’s complaints about U.S. hypocrisy, ill-treatment and ageing weapons.

Duterte says the United States uses the pacts to conduct clandestine activities like spying and nuclear weapons stockpiling, which he says risk making the Philippines a target for Chinese aggression.

Ending the VFA could hurt Washington’s future interests in maintaining an Asia-Pacific troop presence amid friction over the presence of U.S. personnel in Japan and South Korea and security concerns about China and North Korea.

‘WE MUST HAVE A SAY’

Some Filipino senators sought to block Duterte’s move soon after news of it broke, arguing that without Senate approval he had no right to unilaterally scrap international pacts it had ratified.

“We must have a say on this important matter,” said Senator Richard Gordon.

Some lawmakers are concerned that without the VFA, two other pacts would be irrelevant, namely the 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement made under the Obama administration, and a 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty.

Those cover dozens of annual military training exercises and broaden the access of U.S. forces and equipment to the Philippines, as well as bind the two countries to defend each other from external aggression.

Supporters of the agreements argue they have deterred Chinese militarization in the South China Sea and $1.3 billion of U.S. defense assistance since 1998 has been vital in boosting the capabilities of under-resourced Philippine forces.

Philippine nationalists, however, say the United States did nothing to stop China building islands in the South China Sea equipped with missiles, and say the VFA is lopsidedly favorable to Americans, including the granting of immunity from prosecution for U.S. servicemen.

Duterte, who favors closer ties with China and Russia, pressed ahead with the termination despite a Senate hearing on the VFA last week during which his senior generals and defense and foreign ministers spoke in favor of it.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-usa-defence/philippines-duterte-terminates-troop-pact-in-blow-to-us-idUSKBN2050E9

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No money, Philippines will not buy American attack helicopters

Philippines delays the purchase of AH-1Z Viper or AH-64E Apache attack helicopters offered by the United States under the two Foreign Military Sales (FMS) package, according to INQUIRER.net.

Philippine’s Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana also said that the American offers are too expensive for the country.

“The money allotted to buy attack helicopters is only P13 billion ($256 million),” he said.

Also, the minister stressed that if the Philippines bought the American helicopters, the country could buy only one or two units. This was the reason, he said, that the Philippine military looked for other countries that can supply attack helicopters with more units than what the allotted funds could buy if these were bought from the U.S.

Last month, in dual announcements, the U.S. State Department approved potential foreign military sales for six of both helicopters to the Philippines, which plans to modernize its attack rotorcraft fleet, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announcements.

One possible sale concerns six AH-64E Apache helicopters and associated support equipment. Another concerns six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and related equipment. The value of the estimated AH-64E sale is $1.5 billion; the AH-1Z sale is estimated to cost $450 million.

The offers came despite the Philippine Air Force’s selection of T129 ATAK helicopters of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for its attack helicopter acquisition program. The Turkish supplier, however, is still trying to obtain an export license from the US government for subsystems because of sanctions imposed by Washington against Turkey for purchasing weapons from Russia.

On 4/20/2020 at 4:08 PM, Dark Carnage said:

Why this thread is in Islamic World's Defence Forum section? 🤔

 

Same thought. @Aparajita Banerjee @Syed Amar Khan

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Philippines explores options to buy BrahMos missile from India

1 min read . Updated: 18 May 2020, 11:26 PM ISTElizabeth Roche

India is also exploring the possibility of selling the BrahMos to Indonesia

The Philipines and India have had price negotiation talks for the BrahMos cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia

India and the Phillipines are in talks for the purchase of a number of defence platforms from India including the Brahmos missile, India’s ambassador to the Phillipines Jaideep Majumdar has said.

“There are discussions going on a range of weapons systems between India and the Phillipines. Once travel becomes possible, the joint committee that looks at defence logistics will meet discuss these things," Majumdar said on Monday.

The Philippines and India have had price negotiation talks for the BrahMos cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia, with the aim of concluding a deal in 2020, two people familiar with the matter said separately.

The Phillipines is one among several countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam that has shown an interest in purchasing the land and sea-based versions of the supersonic cruise missile.

The cost of the system was a key factor in Manila’s decision to equip the Philippines Army’s first Land Based Missile System Battery, which was raised and activated in October, one of the people cited above said.

Though India has offered a $100 million line of credit to the Philippines for defence purchases, Manila is exploring the option of acquiring the BrahMos system with its own funds to be allocated in the next budget.

In recent years, the Philippines has concluded several deals with India for personal protective items or bulletproof gear and armour plating for military vehicles. An Indian firm has also bid for a recent Philippines tender for bulletproof gear.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Philippines in 2017, India and the Phillippines had signed an MoU on defence industry and logistics cooperation to provide a framework for strengthening cooperation and coordination in logistics support and services, and in the development, production and procurement of defence hardware.

India is also exploring the possibility of selling the BrahMos to Indonesia, and a team from the Indo-Russian joint venture that makes the system visited a state-run shipyard to assess the fitting of the missile on Indonesian warships.

India has also held talks with Vietnam for the sale of the BrahMos, which was developed by the Indo-Russian joint venture set up in 1998. The Indian Navy inducted the missile on its frontline warships in 2005 and the army began inducting the BrahMos from 2007 after a series of tests.

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