• DFA Secretary said the president will still honor EDCA
  • He assured public that PH will remain allies of the US
  • Spokesman also explained Duterte just wants to stand on equal footing with other countries

MANILA, Philippines – A day after President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted American special forces to leave Mindanao, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay said he will still nevertheless honor the country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.

According to Yasay, Duterte will implement the EDCA as it has already been declared valid by the Supreme Court.

“He will respect all treaty agreements or arrangement with any nations, including America, including the EDCA, which the Supreme Court held as valid,” he told ABS-CBN.

The EDCA will give US forces greater access to bases in the Philippines for a minimum period of 10 years.

Yasay also assured everyone that the Philippines remains a close ally of the United States despite Duterte’s remarks.

“I would like to assure our Filipino people, there is no shift in so far as our policy is concerned, with respect to our close friendship with the Americans,” he said.

For his part, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte just wants the country to stand on equal footing with other nations.

“He wants full and equal partnership with other nations,” he said. “Hindi natin ina-isolate ang sarili natin. Sinasabi lang natin na we are coming out of the shadows of other big nations. We are our own selves.”

 [We are not isolating ourselves. We are only saying that we are coming out of the shadows of other big nations. We are our own selves].”

Duterte earlier said he wants US special forces to leave Mindanao for their own safety and to prevent their presence from aggravating tensions further.

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