PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused Washington of putting Manila in jeopardy by building permanent arms depots in the Philippines but the military said they are checking what the commander-in-chief was talking about because they know of “no incident of that nature.”
“They’re unloading arms in the Philippines now … I’m serving notice to the armed forces of the United States. Do not do it, I will not allow it,” Duterte said in a late Sunday night news conference.
“Provisions of the Visiting Forces [Agreement], there shall be no permanent facilities. A depot is by any other name a depot. It’s a permanent structure to house arms. I do not even know if there is a nuclear tip now that they are unloading.”
“There was no confirmed incident of this nature,” AFP spokesman Brig. General Restituto Padilla said in a press briefing on Monday.
“This may have been a report on the previous joint exercises of the past years” when the US was allowed to bring tanks and other military hardware, Padilla said.
As of the moment, Padilla said, the Americans are only building facilities that may be used for disaster response.
“You place us all in danger. You do that and I will be there when you start building”•even before you build the first post,” Duterte said after midnight of Sunday and Monday.
“You are egging us … egging us [on] to force the issue of arbitral judgment.”
He made his statement even as the left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan supported his opposition to the US plan.
“We support President Duterte’s opposition to the construction of any US weapons depot in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” the group said in a statement.
Bayan said Duterte was correct in pointing out that the US wished to preposition weapons in the Philippines, which would raise tensions in the region.
Duterte warned that should the American military presence in the country continue under the Edca, China might launch missiles against Philippine installations bearing American weaponry.
“Now, the missiles of China are pointed at the American expeditions. The depots would serve as a supply line. Now, that will be the first thing to get hit by their missiles,” Duterte said.
“They will hit Cagayan, Palawan, Basa. So am I a fool? I won’t let it happen.”
Amid his continuing anti-American tirades, Duterte likewise sought an “urgent” appeal to his patron Beijing to provide precision-guided missiles to combat extremism in Mindanao.
“I have an urgent message to China to help us. If they have precision guided arms, a gun, give as a loan,” Duterte said.
“Certainly, I have to confront them… But now investments are coming in. They have answered projects that Congress won’t give Tugade,” he said referring to Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade.
He said the depots that the US would be building were “permanent facilities” and that would be unconstitutional.