Palace: Other defense pacts with US will remain
MANILA, Philippines — The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States will not mar the Philippines’ alliance with Washington, as it will only end privileges granted to US military personnel in the country.
Malacañang on Sunday assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent order to end the VFA would not affect other existing defense agreements with the United States, a longtime ally of the Philippines.
“The other agreements won’t be terminated… It will remain, and it will be unchanged. We’re only talking about the VFA,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
He stressed that other defense agreements with the United States, particularly the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT)and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), are safe for now.
“He (Duterte) didn’t say anything about those. He was only referring to the VFA,” Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ.
The 1951 MDT, on the other hand, mandates both nations to support each other if either the Philippines or the United States were attacked by an external party.
In December 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered the MDT’s review with the end goal of either “to maintain it, strengthen it, or scrap it.”
Meanwhile, the 2014 EDCA allows US troops to stay in the country for extended stays, and allow the United States to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases for the use of both forces.
No new alliances
EDCA bars the United States from establishing permanent military bases and allows Philippine personnel to have access to American ships and aircraft.
Panelo added that the VFA’s looming termination does not mean that the Philippines will form new defense alliances with nontraditional allies like Russia and China.
In an interview over Russia Today last week, the President praised Russia and China for respecting Philippine sovereignty, a trait that Duterte said was “totally lacking” from the US.
“The VFA refers more to the privileges granted to the American military. It does not include all other treaties which are relative to the security of the Philippines, and alliance to the United States,” Panelo explained.
He added: “It’s only the VFA that will be terminated. So there is nothing to speculate about ‘yung alliance natin (our alliance) with the US… The alliance will remain the same.”
Panelo made the remarks amid warnings that the President’s decision to abruptly terminate the VFA would be a big blow to the Philippines’ counterterrorism efforts.
Jose Cuisia Jr., former ambassador to the United States, said US military personnel helping in the country’s antiterrorism drive would have to leave. INQ
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