President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his willingness to open up Philippine facilities to the US military if the Russia-Ukraine crisis spills over to the Asian region, Manila’s top diplomat said in Washington on Thursday.
“He says that if they ask for support from the Philippines, it has been very clear that if the push comes to fruition, the Philippines will be ready to be part of the effort, especially if this Ukraine crisis spills over into the Asian region,” said Ambassador Jose. Manuel Romualdez told reporters at an online media forum.
“He offered that the Philippines be ready to open their doors especially to our American ally to use our facilities, any facilities they might need.”
The Foreign Office (FDFA) has not yet issued a statement on this.
“Go get an official reaction if any,” Assistant Secretary Ed Menez said when asked for comment.
GMA News Online has also sought comment from Malacañang, but he has yet to respond at press time.
The Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the United States, which obliges the two allies to come to the aid of each other in the event of aggression and to help defend the other party.
Romualdez, who recently met Duterte in Manila, said the president had indicated his approval to open former military bases in Clark, Pampanga and Subic in Zamabales to the United States in the event of an “emergency situation”.
Russian troops launched their attack on Ukraine on February 24, prompting international condemnation, 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 the president meant this was happening in an emergency situation where, let’s pray it doesn’t happen, but if it does spread in the Asian region for some reason, the president obviously sees this 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 this military alliance, he said he allows the use of the facilities.”
Duterte’s move may come as a surprise, as he has had close ties to US rivals Russia and China since becoming president in 2016, while often criticizing US policies and lambasting US critics of the crackdown anti-drug administration.
Romualdez explained that while Duterte “appreciates the friendship he has formed with [Russian] President Putin and [Chinese] President Xi, he knows that this thing that is happening right now in Ukraine is something that should not have happened because it was not provoked.
“The president was very concerned about this and his main concern was how this will affect our economy which already is and that’s certainly 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 has been able to bring home dozens of Filipinos from the Eastern European state.
The Philippines has joined 140 countries in denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before the United Nations, expressing “explicit condemnation” of “the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state”. —News KBK, GMA