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Now what? President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is outraged. He wants an end to the U.S. military presence in his country. He wants to curb all cooperation with the U.S. armed forces. He hits hard, talks big. And his people seem to be behind him, no matter what -- his popularity rating is high and rising, now around 87%, which is something unimaginable anywhere else in Southeast Asia, or in the world.
Under a colorful headline on February 7, 2020, "End that son of a b*tch" Duterte confirms "US-Philippines military collaboration agreement is toast' " RT reported:
"Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is "terminating" the Visiting Forces Agreement, which provides legal immunity to US military drills, in retaliation for the US canceling the visa of a political ally and fellow drug-warrior.
"The president said he is terminating the VFA," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told ABS-CBN News on Friday. "I asked for clarification and he said he is not changing his decision." The agreement provides legal immunity for US soldiers conducting military exercises in the Philippines.
Enraged by the US decision to cancel the visa of former police chief and Senator Roland dela Rosa last month, Duterte had given Washington a month to fix its 'mistake,' refusing to back down even as other members of his government urged him to reconsider.
"I'm warning you -- if you won't do the correction on this, I will terminate the -- Visiting Forces Agreement," Duterte said last month, daring the US to call his bluff."
Then few days later, on February 13, 2020, a letter was sent to his country's tormentor and former colonialist master: "The Philippines has notified the United States that a major security pact is over."
Some say, all this is nothing new. The United States, the European Union, and even the United Nations keep attacking President Duterte. He hits back, insults his counter-parts, regularly threatening to kick out the U.S. and its military forces. He personally insults the leaders of Western countries, international organizations and even the Catholic Church which, in the Philippines, used to be untouchable.
Making Western leaders desperate, he calls China "the kindest nation on earth," and he admires Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. In Manila, the Russian leader is now a masculine idol.