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Opinion

Duterte's U-turn on defense pact with US shows China threat

Philippines realizes it needs VFA protection as Beijing takes advantage of COVID-19

| Philippines
The episode belies long-running accusations that the Filipino leader is nothing but a Chinese puppet.   © Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division/AP

Richard Heydarian is an Asia-based academic, columnist and author of "The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy" and the "The Indo-Pacific: Trump, China and the New Struggle for Global Mastery."

Back in February, President Rodrigo Duterte suddenly announced he intended to cancel the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement, or VFA, a defense pact that has facilitated comprehensive security and humanitarian cooperation between the allies over two decades.

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