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‘Bring all charges,’ Philippines’ Duterte dares US

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his message to the Filipino community in Vietnam during a meeting on September 28. (PCOO EDP/Wikimedia Commons)

President Rodrigo Duterte has dared the United States to pursue charges against the Philippine government over the supposed extrajudicial killings associated with its war on drugs as he stood pat on his decision to terminate the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Washington.

In his speech during the oath-taking of newly appointed government officials in Malacañang on Tuesday night, Duterte bared that he raised the challenge to US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim whey they met recently.

“Sinabi ko sa kanya (I told [Kim]), ‘I don’t care about…extrajudicial killing. Wala akong pakialam d’yan (I don’t care about it). You can bring all the charges you want but I will stick to my guns. I will kill anybody [who] will tend to destroy my country,’” he said.

The President revealed that the US had been reaching out to him to discuss the abrogated military agreement between the two countries.

“Tinanggal ko ‘yung VFA. Sila naman ngayon ang lapit nang lapit (I ended VFA. Now they are hounding me),” Duterte said.

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“Kaya sabi ko, ulitin ko (That’s why I said) how could it be wrong, when can it be wrong ‘pag magsabi ako (when I say), ‘Do not destroy my country because I will kill you?’ Who can debate with that? That is the preservation of my people,” he added.

The President’s statement came after US Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said he and Kim were trying to find ways to craft another deal similar to the VFA.

But Malacañang said Duterte’s position on the termination of the VFA was unchanged.

Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA after the US canceled the visa of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, his close ally, reportedly over the former national police chief’s involvement in the war on drugs.

Senators had questioned the President’s decision to end the treaty and had asked the Supreme Court to rule whether or not Congress should have a say in the termination of an agreement.

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© 2020 The Manila Times