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Duterte: US endangering regional security by storing arms in Philippines

Philippine's President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers a question during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Washington of constructing permanent arms depots in his country, in a move which he said will disrupt regional security.

"They're unloading arms in the Philippines now ... I'm serving notice to the armed forces of the United States. Do not do it, I will not allow it," said Duterte on Sunday during a televised press conference.  

He noted that the US is currently bringing arms into three provinces in the Philippines, which he stressed was in violation of a defense agreement between the two countries.

"Provisions of the Visiting Forces (Agreement), there shall be no permanent facilities. A depot is by any other name a depot. It's a permanent structure to house arms," he said.

"I do not even know if there is a nuclear tip (missile) now, that they are unloading," he added.

A police officer instructs others for maximum tolerance during a protest by members of an indigenous group and activists in front of the US embassy calling for the immediate pull-out of US troops in the Philippines, in Manila on October 27, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Duterte, who has on multiple occasions voiced his disdain for the presence of US forces in his country, made the remarks after the Pentagon gave the go ahead for the construction of warehouses, barracks and runways on Philippine soil in accordance with an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries.

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 The Philippine president went on to note that if such facilities were built, he would mull a review of pacts between the two countries "and maybe ultimately abrogate, since it is an executive order."

He added that the US was endearing stability in the region, especially in the Philippines, over its problems with China.

"The missiles of China are pointed at the American expeditions," he said in reference to US naval patrols in the South China Sea. "A depot would serve as a supply line," Duterte added.

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China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea, through which $6.5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. The sea is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

This US Navy photo obtained July 27, 2016 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) as it conducts a firing exercise of the MK 45/5-inch lightweight gun at a surface target during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore on July 26, 2016 in the South China Sea. (Photo by AFP)

While some of those rival claimants, such as the Philippines, have been handling their differences with China smoothly, the US stands accused of needlessly heightening tensions in a region it does not belong to.

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