Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved plans for the United States military to build barracks and fuel depots in designated local camps where American forces are allowed to temporarily station under a 2014 defense pact, according to Defense Secretary Deflin Lorenzana.
Duterte also threatened to repeal the deal if the United States attempts to store weapons stockpiles within the camps, citing concerns of his country becoming involved in any conflicts between the U.S. and China.
“I will consider a review and maybe ultimately abrogate” he said
. He then went on to accuse the United States military of supposedly smuggling armaments into the country from the western Philippine province of Palawan, which faces the disputed South China Sea.
Lorenzana claims that the accusations are unfounded.
“I don’t know where the president got his information but I corrected it,” he said
. “I actually asked his decision if we will continue with the EDCA construction or not.”
“He said, ‘OK, let’s proceed, but make sure that there is no stockpiling of ammunition there,'” Lorenzana continued.
Lorenzana claims that a majority of the equipment brought to the country is meant to provide humanitarian assistance in the event of a natural disaster. He went on to assure Duterte that the U.S. military understands that stockpiling weapons on the island or in the camps is prohibited by the 2014 agreement and that they have no intention of violating the terms.
U.S. troops will be bringing their rifles and ammunition but the weapons will not remain on the island and will return to the United States with the service members.