Duterte orders start of VFA termination process—Palace
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered the start of process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Malacañang said Friday.
“Kasi tinanong ko sya kagabi, when will the process start?” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said, referring to the termination of the VFA.
“’Tonight,’” Panelo said, quoting the President. “The process of starting it has commenced or will commence today.”
Duterte earlier threatened to terminate the VFA if the US does not “correct” its cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa’s U.S. visa.
Dela Rosa on Wednesday disclosed his U.S. visa had been canceled and was told he can re-apply to secure a U.S. visa again.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he has already instructed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to “start the process” of terminating the country’s accord with the U.S.
‘Lukewarm’ PH-US diplomatic relations
But apart from the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, Panelo attributed the termination of VFA to factors like supposedly attacking the country’s sovereignty.
“That’s only one of them, as I said this is [an] accumulation of many factors and considerations,” Panelo said.
“When you assail the sovereignty of one state, napakabigat yon. Di ba they’ve been intruding to our domestic affairs, bullying us into submission. We cannot allow that.”
Asked to describe the country’s diplomatic relations with the U.S., Panelo said: “Maybe we can say that it’s not as warm as before. It’s lukewarm.”
U.S. President Donald Trump earlier signed the U.S. government’s 2020 budget which included a provision that bars entry of Philippine officials should there be “credible information” that they were involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of opposition Senator Leila De Lima.
Duterte, in response, ordered the ban of U.S. senators who sought to deny Philippine officials from entering the U.S. and supported the release of De Lima who has been detained over drug-related charges during her term as Justice secretary which she has vehemently denied.
The VFA, which came into force in 1999, allows cooperation between the Philippine and American defense forces, and for the U.S. military to partake in training programs.
Edited by MUF
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