The President’s decision to withdraw the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement came on the grounds of the two nations’ respect for their partnership being “sovereign equals.”
FOLLOWING United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III’s visit to the Philippines yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to “recall” the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Malacañang said Friday (July 30).
The President’s decision came on the grounds of the two nations’ respect for their partnership being “sovereign equals,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
“PRRD’s (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) decision to recall the abrogation of VFA is based on upholding PH strategic core interests, the clear definition of PH-US alliance as one between sovereign equals, and clarity of US position on its obligations and commitments under MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty),” Roque explained.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier announced Duterte’s move to retract the abrogation of VFA following his meeting with Austin at Malacañang Palace in Manila on Thursday (July 29). (See also: Welcome development; Digong to meet with US Defense Secretary )
Roque was referring to the 1951 MDT that aims to step up the defense and security cooperation between the US and Philippine troops.
Duterte ordered the VFA’s revocation in February 2020.
The controversial military pact was supposed to be officially scrapped in August last year, but its termination was suspended for three six-month periods.
The latest was in June this year when Duterte decided anew to extend the VFA’s validity for six more months.
Lorenzana said the Philippines would continue to hold negotiations with the US to revisit the VFA.
The VFA, a 1998 defense deal between Manila and Washington, allows American forces to enter the Philippines sans passport and visa to allow them to participate in joint military drills in the host country.
The two countries are currently holding talks to come up with a “side agreement” that will serve as an addendum to the VFA.
During a meeting at Malacañang, Duterte and Austin agreed that “enhanced communication and greater cooperation” can further boost Manila and Washington’s alliance, the Palace said.
Despite the latest development, Roque said the Philippines would continue to engage other countries for “partnerships that work based on our core national interests.” (ONT/With report from PNA)
Tags: #RodrigoDuterte, #UnitedStates, #VisitingForcesAgreement, #bilateraltalks