The Philippines will prohibit the deployment of foreign troops in Pag-asa Island as well as oppose the entry of nuclear-powered missile systems in any part of the country, President Duterte declared Thursday night.
A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) (REUTERS/Ritchie B. Tongo/Pool/File Photo/File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
The President said only the deployment of Filipino troops would be allowed on the Philippine-controlled island in the West Philippine Sea, insisting the country’s ownership of the territory.
“Even before, we were claiming it. Pag-asa has been there for 74 years? Ah that’s – 1974 rather. We already claimed Pag-asa, occupied, that’s why there’s a base there,” Duterte said during an interview with reporters at the Palace Thursday night.
“But I’d like to assure also. I would not allow any foreign troops. I do not want trouble. Not the Chinese, not the Koreans, not the Americans, not anybody else except Filipino troops,” he added.
The President is also opposed to any installation of missile systems including nuclear weapons by foreign allies in the country. “It is not allowed under our Constitution to be placing nuclear weapons here,” he insisted.
He made clear that his opposition to the installation of missile systems was not only directed to the United States but also Russia and China.
“I’m responding to all, not only the Americans. Russians, China. I will not allow the deployment of nuclear warheads because it is not allowed by our Constitution and we – I do not want it,” he said.
Early this week, the President asserted he would never allow the United States to install missile systems in the country. Although he recognizes the mutual defense treaty with the United States, he said installing nuclear arsenal in the country is against the Constitution.
Duterte declared his stand after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier announced he was amenable to deploying ground-based missiles in Asia “sooner rather than later” apparently to counter the rise of China. Esper did not say where the weapons will be based although some suspect that Asian allies like Japan and Australia could be among the deployment sites.
Esper’s announcement came after the Trump administration pulled out of Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia.