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US vows to work with PH

America will not bid farewell to its longest ally in Southeast Asia –at least, not just yet.

In a statement Monday, the United States Embassy in Manila said will “continue to focus on our broad relationship with the Philippines” despite the notification put forward recently by President Rodrigo Duterte for the US government to prepare to leave the country and the eventual abrogation of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

According to US embassy Deputy Press Attaché Emma Nagy, Washington will keep on working together with Manila “in the many areas of mutual interest to improve the livelihoods of the Philippine people and uphold our shared democratic values.”

On his return from his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore last week and upon hearing the news that the US decided not to renew a major financial aid package to the Philippines channeled through its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) due to concerns about human rights violations in the ongoing drug war in the country, President Duterte once again threatened to sever the country’s ties with America.

“If we are a country that is very dangerous,” the President said in his arrival statement delivered at the Davao International Airport. “If you think that there is crime there because we execute people, if you think that there is extrajudicial killing here…So why are you here?”

“What is your purpose in this Visiting Forces Agreement?” he added. “So why don’t you just leave.”

According to President Duterte, the Philippines does not need financial aid coming from the US because China already expressed its willingness to provide whatever the money that the country needs.

“So, bye-bye America and work on the protocols that would eventually move you out from the Philippines,” he said. “We are glad that we are freed from proving anything to the United States.” (ROY C. MABASA)