THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines is seeking clarification from the Department of National Defense on the reported threat of President Duterte to abrogate the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) and take a new foreign policy direction.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the AFP was reserving comment on the issue until a clarification from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was received on what the Commander in Chief really meant.
On Sunday, the President told an audience at the Maskara Festival in Bacolod City that his administration was reviewing the Edca. He said that although it was an official document, it was not signed by former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Mr. Duterte made the threat following reports the United States might sanction the Philippines because of the President’s deadly war on drugs.
“If you Americans are angry with me, then I’m also angry with you,” Mr. Duterte had said.
Padilla said he believed the President just wanted to explore relations with other countries.
“The current status of our country is we are friends with all our neighbors. We abide by the constitutional policy of always prioritizing peace and that’s exactly what we are doing, so within the scope of our capabilities we are able to protect our interest at the moment,” he said.
Padilla said the AFP chief of staff will hold talks with his counterpart in the US Pacific Command in a meeting in the country this month.
Looking into coup talk
Meanwhile, the AFP is “seriously looking” into persistent reports of a brewing coup in the military to be staged by military officers unhappy with Mr. Duterte’s leadership style and public pronouncements as the Commander in Chief.
Padilla said that while the AFP had not monitored any unusual movements in the ranks, the military hierarchy was not taking the reports lightly.
“News about this seeming disturbance within the military are unknown to us. (But) these are things that we take seriously so we will look into it,” Padilla said in a news briefing at Camp Aguinaldo.