USA provides $18 Million precision-guided missiles, renews pledge to defend Philippines

USA provides $18 Million precision-guided missiles, renews pledge to defend Philippines

 Manila Philippines - Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte suspended for another six months the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for the second time around which makes USA thankful for the decision and could be the reason of the visit of the US Defense Chief to meet with Mr. Locsin for the Turnover of the precision-guided weapons. 

President Duterte frankly expressed his abhorrence to the US especially during Obama administration when they abandoned the Philippines in the midst of the Stand-off with China on 2012 for the Panatag Shoal letting China to control the territory in the Philippine EEZ while downgrading the Philippines' Mutual Defense Treaty to just a client state and not an ally in some speeches former US president Obama during his official visits in South Korea and Japan. Former president Aquino was actually invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty for the Scarborough Shoal stand-off  but Washington ignored it.

For President Duterte; visiting forces agreement is irrelevant though it provides guidelines to the visiting US Soldiers in the country but it is also a cause of outrage by many locals due to many violations and abused to women. Though President Duterte’s relation with Trump is good, but Biden could follow the footprints of Obama to abandon the Philippines when trouble comes a signal which reminds the Philippines to be very careful in dealing with China.

Many locals also in the Southern Philippines are opposed with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as they are suspecting that VFA is just a piece of face-shield paper of the United States to cover the real purpose for sending their military to the Philippines to train with the Philippine soldiers but the fact is they are doing other things more than the said trainings that could be more beneficial to USA financially to offset their costs of the trainings and doing covered-activities that could violate the Philippine laws. 

As reported by some locals in the southern part of the country; they found out that while other US soldiers are conducting trainings or doing medical missions; several US soldiers also went to the mountains with their map and equipment for digging and getting something from under the ground which they don’t know what they were getting and they are suspecting that maybe they are getting gold bars, diamonds or precious stones etc. Locals believed that USA will not spend that much for trainings and medical missions in the Philippines if they are not really getting more than what they spent in their investments for VFA.

Precision-guided missiles

USA provides $18 Million precision-guided missiles, renews pledge to defend Philippines

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.

O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election.

Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favor,” he said.

O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam.

In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines.

“President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.”

He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien.

He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China.

“They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said.

He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defense obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defense treaty.

In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighboring Asian states.

The precision-guided missiles from Trump administration could be the last material support from USA to the Philippines during the Trump Administration. The question is, would Biden be good to the Philippines after the end of President Trump’s leadership? 

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