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PH to ‘start process’ of VFA termination — Locsin

/ 12:10 PM January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has instructed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to “start the process” of terminating the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

“Leaving for (Washington, DC) on unrelated matters. But called Sec Lorenzana as Vice Chair—I am Chair of VFA—to start the process of terminating USFVA,” Locsin said over Twitter Friday.

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“Step 1 is calling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because on our side it is a treaty; on US side Executive Agreement,” he added.

Locsin said that while Senate concurrence is required before the Philippines can enter into treaties or international agreements, such is not required to terminate them.

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He likened this situation when he initiated the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which took effect in March 2019.

“There is a view which I think I shared once—on pulling out of ICC as I did as UN ambassador—that while Senate concurrence is required to make a treaty; none is required to terminate it which is an entirely personal Presidential power. But that’s just a view,” the country’s top diplomat said in a separate tweet.

But even if there is “no need for any Senate participation,” Locsin said he would inform the upper chamber “out of courtesy.”

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the foreign affairs committee, he has yet to receive any communication from Locsin regarding the VFA.

“Wala pa communication from the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs). (No communication from SFA yet). But I am sure (the Senate) will start discussing that matter even informally,” he told INQUIRER.net in a message.

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the U.S. if the latter fails to rectify the cancelation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Dela Rosa disclosed on Wednesday that his visa was canceled after he got an official reply from the embassy about the status of his visa.

The embassy did not divulge the reason behind the cancelation of his visa, but Dela Rosa surmised it might have been because of his role in the Duterte administration’s bloody drug war.

The Defense Secretary, meanwhile, said it is now up to the U.S. government to respond to the Chief Executive’s pronouncement.

“I can understand why PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is peeved by the cancellation of Senator Bato’s visa because of alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the drug war,” the Defense chief said.

The VFA, which took effect in 1999, covers the conduct of visiting American soldiers in the Philippines and serves as a foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US.

Edited by MUF
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TAGS: Global Nation, Locsin, Lorenzana, News, Senate, US, VFA, Visiting Forces Agreement
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