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Philippines ending military agreement with US

The Philippines has sent a notice to the United States of a presidential decision to end a two-decade military agreement with Washington within six months.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his foreign minister to sign the Philippines’ notice of termination and send it to Washington, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday.

“It’s about time we rely on ourselves, we will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country,” Panelo told a news briefing, quoting the president.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, who signed the notice, also said in a tweet that the US Embassy in Manila “has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

He said that “there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development.”

The formal notice is a requirement for ending the military agreement, which accorded legal status to thousands of US troops in the Philippines for military exercises and humanitarian assistance.

The pact will expire in 180 days after the receipt of the notice of termination. 

The US said on Monday that a bilateral meeting was being scheduled with the Philippines next month to discuss the plan to end the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Duterte, however, reassured he was not changing his decision over the pact. He warned the US last month about the termination of the accord after Washington revoked the visa of a Filipino former police chief.

Manila’s move has concerned Washington about two other bilateral military pacts — a Mutual Defense Treaty and an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

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