The pact has helped the Philippines contain a violent Muslim insurgency in the south.
Manila: The United States on Sunday said it would work with the Philippines President to address any concerns after he threatened to terminate a pact that allows US troops to visit the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte was enraged after a US government aid agency deferred a vote on a renewal of a major development assistance package for the Philippines over concerns about extrajudicial killings in Mr Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead.
Although no decision on the aid package has been taken, Mr Duterte on Saturday launched an expletives-laden tirade, telling the US to “prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement”.
He was referring to a 1998 accord that governs American forces visiting the Philippines for joint combat exercises.
The pact has helped the Philippines contain a violent Muslim insurgency in the south and train and equip Filipino forces facing an assertive China in disputed South China Sea waters.
“You know, tit for tat ... If you can do this, so (can) we. It ain’t a one-way traffic,” Duterte said, adding, “Bye-bye America.”
The US embassy in Manila said in a statement overnight that Washington would work closely with the Philippines administration to address any concerns it might have.
While calling Americans “sons of bitches” and “hypocrites”, Mr Duterte on Saturday praised China as having “the kindest soul of all” for offering what he said was significant financial assistance. “So, what do I need America for?” he asked.
He also said Russia can be a very important ally. “They do not insult people, they do not interfere,” he said.
The Philippines had been slated for another aid package after its previous five-year, $434 million poverty reduction program was successfully completed in May under Mr Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
The US government, along with EU and UN officials, has raised concerns about Mr Duterte’s war on drugs, which has left over 2,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead in purported gun-battles with police. Over 3,000 other deaths are being probed to see if they were linked to illegal drugs.