MANILA, Mar 10 (Mabuhay) –President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his willingness to open Philippine facilities to the United States military if the Russian-Ukraine crisis spills over to the Asian region, Manila’s top diplomat to Washington said Thursday.
“He says if they’re asking for the support of the Philippines he was very clear that if push comes to shove the Philippines will be ready to be part of the effort especially if this Ukrainian crisis spills over to the Asian region,” Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told journalists at an online media forum.
“He offered that the Philippines will be ready to open its doors especially to our ally the US in using our facilities, any facilities they may need.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to issue a statement regarding this.
“Will seek an official reaction if any,” said Assistant Secretary Ed Menez when sought for comment.
The Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, which binds the two allies to come to each other’s aid from aggression and help defend the other party.
Romualdez, who recently met with Duterte in Manila, said the President has indicated his approval to open former military bases in Clark, Pampanga, and in Subic in Zamabales to the US in the event of an “emergency situation.”
Russian troops launched their attack on Ukraine on February 24, drawing international condemnations, warnings and sanctions from countries, led by the United States, with US President Joe Biden calling Moscow’s move “unprovoked and unjustified.”
“I’m pretty sure that the President meant this to be in an emergency situation where, let’s pray it does not happen, but if it spreads out in the Asian region for some reason or another, the President obviously sees that need for us to make a choice,” Romualdez said.
“And our choice is obviously and since we have an MDT with the United States, we have this special relationship and military alliance, he said he is allowing the use of facilities.”
Duterte’s move may come as a surprise since he has nurtured close ties with US rivals Russia and China since he became President in 2016, while often criticizing US policies and lambasting American criticisms of his administration’s anti-drugs crackdown.
Romualdez explained that while Duterte “values the friendship he made with [Russian] President Putin and [Chinese] President Xi, he knows that this thing happening right now in Ukraine is something that should not have happened because it was unprovoked.”
“The President was very concerned about it and his major concern was how it will affect our economy which already is and that’s definitely number one that came into our discussion,” Romualdez said.
Ukraine was home to nearly 400 Filipinos and since the war broke out, the Philippine government was able to bring home dozens of Filipinos from the eastern European state.
The Philippines joined 140 countries in denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before the United Nations, expressing “explicit condemnation” against “the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state.” (MNS)