Duterte pledges to open Philippines to U.S. forces if Russia’s Ukraine invasion escalates

Duterte pledges to open Philippines to U.S. forces if Russia’s Ukraine invasion escalatesDuterte pledges to open Philippines to U.S. forces if Russia’s Ukraine invasion escalates
The Philippine government is reportedly willing to open the country to American troops should the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine escalate into a fight with U.S. involvement.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cited the country’s 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. in a recent meeting in Manila, according to Ambassador Jose Manuel del Gallego Romualdez, Manila’s envoy to Washington, on Thursday.
Under the treaty, the U.S. and the Philippines must come to the aid of the other should an attack ensue.
While Duterte spent the early years of his presidency openly criticizing U.S. policies, American officials have reportedly given their assurance that they would honor their treaty should Filipino forces ever come under attack.
Romualdez said Duterte expressed concern over the current crisis and its impact on the international economy. 
The Philippines is one of the countries that has condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The Southeast Asian nation also voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution urging Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
Duterte, who has maintained close relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping throughout his presidency, is nearing the end of his six-year term in June.
According to Romualdez, however, Duterte does not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 
“He says if [the U.S. is] asking for the support of the Philippines, it’s very clear that, of course, 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,” Romualdez told journalists in Manila. “Give them the assurance that if ever needed, the Philippines is ready to offer whatever facilities or whatever things that the United States will need being a major — our number one ally.”
While Duterte did not discuss which facilities would be open for American forces, Romualdez mentioned the freeports of Clark and Subic Bay, two areas where former American air and naval bases thrived until their closure in 1992. 
Duterte’s message comes as ambassadors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 
are set to meet with U.S. national security officials at the White House this week. Romualdez said their meeting will focus on discussions about the sanctions that the U.S. imposed on Russia earlier this month.
Featured Image via Inquirer.net
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