Published: 15:33, June 29, 2023 | Updated: 20:58, June 29, 2023
Duterte voices concern over US military presence in Philippines

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine then-President Rodrigo Duterte meets cabinet officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on March 7, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)

MANILA - The presence of US military forces and equipment in the Philippines would put the country in danger, former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said.

"We are in a bind. If the Americans are here to stay and bring arms ... it would be too pretty naive or stupid for Filipinos to think that the Americans would only bring conventional warheads," Duterte said in a recent interview with a local media SMNI, aired late Wednesday night.

If the Americans are here to stay and bring arms ... it would be too pretty naive or stupid for Filipinos to think that the Americans would only bring conventional warheads. 

Rodrigo Duterte, Former Philippine President 

The former president opposed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a military pact allowing the United States to deploy its troops, weapons, and equipment in up to nine military bases within the Philippine territory.

"It's my concern for my country, and an open dialogue is always good," Duterte added.

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Filipinos have become concerned over the enhanced military alliance and strategic security partnership between the Philippines and the United States, particularly after the latter had expanded access to the Philippine military bases under EDCA, as well as more extensive joint military exercises in the Southeast Asian country.

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Some analysts believe the United States' ulterior goal is to preserve its dominance in Asia at the cost of provocation and even war, and the Filipinos, who will be caught in the crossfire, will suffer the most. 

Separately, Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos said on Thursday that the Philippines continues to study the proposal of the United States to make the country a transit area for Afghan nationals being resettled in America and other regions.

Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, on May 4, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

Marcos told reporters that neither side has reached a deal regarding the Afghans.

"We continue to study (the proposal). Let's see if there's a way we can do it without endangering the security of the Philippines," Marcos said, adding that it would be possible that both sides won't find a way to make it happen.

Marcos said discussions are underway on whether the Philippines can manage the processing of Afghans' visas. Manila wants to ensure the next step if "things start to go not as planned," he added.

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Marcos said multiple issues, such as security and logistics, are under scrutiny.

Although the Philippines has a long tradition of taking in refugees, as it did during World War II, Marcos said the case of the Afghan nationals involved differences.

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"These are not refugees. They are an entirely different class of (people). They are Afghan nationals being resettled by the United States in the United States and other places. We are only going to be a transition area," Marcos said.