THE UNITED States Embassy on Tuesday explained that the invitation it had extended to presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was nothing out of the ordinary.
“The Embassy routinely meets with a full cross-section of Philippine society and politics to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest,” press attaché Kurt Hoyer said in an e-mail when asked to confirm if the Davao City mayor had indeed been invited to a meeting.
“At this time, no meeting with Mayor Duterte is scheduled,” Hoyer said.
Duterte had disclosed in a speech in Antipolo City that he received an invitation from an “emissary” of the US Embassy to discuss his position on the South China Sea dispute.
Vocal in opposing Edca
The candidate has been vocal in his opposition to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) that the Aquino government concluded with the United States, saying that he was “lukewarm towards the United States.”
Duterte has said that he would honor the Edca but that he would put the country’s national interest first before that of the Americans’.
The 10-year-military agreement, which is now being implemented, allows the United States to rotate its troops here and access Philippine military bases. In return, the United States will help in the country’s defense modernization program.
International trade route
The United States has a significant interest in keeping the navigation routes open in the South China Sea where $ 5.3 trillion worth of international trade passes.
The Philippines has brought an arbitration case to the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration against China’s “indisputable sovereignty” claim over the entire South China Sea.
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