The spokesman of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday that Manila's move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States "is in the right direction".

From the point of view of the Philippines, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the decision to terminate the VFA "is a move in the right direction that should have been done a long time ago."

The Philippine government on Tuesday officially notified the U.S. government about Duterte's decision to scrap the VFA that allows the US forces to take part in large-scale joint military exercises with the Philippine troops.

The Philippines said the termination will take effect 180 days later and will not need US concurrence.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Manila's withdrawal from the VFA "would be a move in the wrong direction."

Panelo slammed Esper's statement, saying the US defense chief's commentary "is expected given that the VFA favors the United States and its abrogation affects its global strategic defensive positioning."

"It is about time that the Philippines strengthen our defense capabilities," Panelo said.

"Reliance on another country for our own defenses against the enemies of the state will ultimately weaken and stagnate our defense mechanisms. We must stand on our own and put a stop to being a parasite to another country in protecting our independence and sovereignty," he said.

"Our studied action is consistent and pursuant to our chartering an independent foreign policy, with our foreign relations anchored solely on national interest and the general welfare of our people," he said.

"Should any country however threaten our territorial integrity and assault our sovereignty, we will rise by our own resources and valiantly defend our motherland the way our forefathers did during their time," he added.

When Duterte, who has been harshly critical of US policies, came to power in 2016 he decided to chart an independent foreign policy course, saying the Philippines is "a friend to all, and enemies to none".

The Philippines and the United States signed in 1998 a VFA allowing joint Philippine-US military operations. The Philippine senate ratified the agreement in 1999, seven years after the closure of the last US base on Philippine territory.