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Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the U.S.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned the U.S. he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.

Duterte, visibly upset, vented his anger over the U.S. decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa, a former police chief who is now a senator.

Dela Rosa said the U.S. embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled but that he believed it was most likely because of allegations of extrajudicial killings during his more than two-year term as police chief.

Dela Rosa was the chief enforcer of Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, which has resulted in deaths of over 5,000 people, mostly small-time drug dealers.

Police say victims were shot by officers in self-defense.

“If you do not do the correction, one, I will terminate the bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“I will finish that son of a bitch.

“I am giving the government and the American government one month from now,” Duterte said in a wide-ranging speech before former Communist rebels.

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of U.S. troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.

Delfin Lorezana, Duterte’s defense minister, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with the president’s plan.

Report says Duterte makes no secret of his disdain for the U.S. and what he considers its hypocrisy and interference, though he acknowledges that most Filipinos and his military have high regard for their country’s former colonial ruler.

The U.S. is the Philippines’ biggest defense ally and millions of Filipinos have relatives who are U.S. citizens.

In December, Duterte banned U.S. senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from visiting the Philippines after they introduced a provision in the U.S. Congress.

The provision calls the ban on U.S. entry to anyone involved in locking up Philippine senator Leila de Lima, a former justice minister and Duterte’s top critic who was jailed in 2017 on drug charges after leading an investigation into thousands of deaths during the anti-narcotics campaign.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim

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