National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel member Benito Tiamzon says President Rodrigo Duterte guaranteed to them that he will pursue an independent foreign policy during their meeting in Davao City on Dec. 2, 2016. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte guaranteed to Communist leaders that he will pursue an independent foreign policy and will revoke the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.

“That’s what we really talked about on Friday evening,” said Benito Tiamzon in an interview with Davao Today on Saturday at the Peace Forum and Assembly held at the University of the Immaculate Conception here.

Tiamzon said they asked Duterte whether he would revoke the EDCA.

“He gave his guarantee that he will revoke it,” he said.

Tiamzon said they also asked Duterte on his stand on pursuing an independent foreign policy, particularly with its policy with the US.

“Sabi niya tiyak yun na course of action habang siya ay Presidente (He assured that it will be his course of action while he is President),” he said.

Tiamzon also said that the phone conversation between Trump and Duterte has recently been a “normal” thing, as both new state leaders expressed well wishes to one another.

Meanwhile, Tiamzon said that Duterte’s alliance with China and Russia is a “wise policy” for the country.

“I think it is a wise policy for the Philippines’ assertion of independence and to seize the opportunity that the contradictions between the US and China and US and Russia will facilitate with our aim to build our strength,” he said.

He said the alliances between China and Russia should create favorable advantages for the Philippines to build its own industries.

During his official visit to Japan on Oct. 26, Duterte said he may abrogate executive military agreements with the United States in a bid to free the country of the presence of foreign troops in two years time.

“I want maybe in the next two years, my country freed of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out. And if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will,” Duterte said.

The Philippines and the US government signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement in 2014, allowing the US to increase its military presence in Philippine military bases and to build and store fuel and equipment in the country.

The agreement was seen to modernize the Philippine military, however, in November last year, the Philippine Senate voted that it is invalid and ineffective asserting that Senate needs to concur on the treaties approved by the President.

But the Supreme Court affirmed in July, EDCA’s constitutionality saying it is an executive agreement that does not need Senate’s approval.

Before joining the Asia-Pacifice Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, Duterte also expressed that he will join China and Russia in creating a “new world order.”

But Duterte also clarified that he is”not a lapdog of any country.”

“I am not also a tuta of any country. Ang pwede lang magtuta sa akin ang Pilipino,period, walang iba (I am also not a lapdog of any country, I will only be subservient to the Filipino people, period, no one else),” he said during his departure speech for Japan in October.

However, Tiamzon said there is also a danger of replacing “an imperialist master with a new one.”

“That is what we should all keep watch on, that should not happen. Our foreign relations should go towards the Philippines’ standing up on its own feet,” he said.(davaotoday.com)

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