Koko Pimentel warns vs VFA termination
MANILA, Philippines — Take it easy.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday warned that President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States due to the revocation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa might prompt Washington to cut its other military treaties with the Philippines.
“My appeal is for us to be more careful and discerning because if we have the power to abrogate a treaty, the other party also has that (authority),” Pimentel told a radio interview.
“Remember that we still have other treaties with the US. If they feel insulted by our sudden termination of the VFA, the US may withdraw from all other treaties with us,” he cautioned. (See related story on Page A4.)“We might be surprised (if that happens),” he added.
Besides the VFA, the Philippines had also signed two other military agreements with the United States—the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951 and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2014.
Under the MDT, the two countries are bound to provide assistance to each other if their territories are attacked by a foreign entity.
EDCA, on the other hand, was a complementary agreement to the VFA that allowed US troops to build and operate temporary facilities in the Philippines.
Pimentel, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, reiterated that the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa was not an affront to the country as the United States has the sovereign power to grant or deny entry to foreign citizens.
He pointed out that the Philippines could also do the same to any foreigner, including US citizens, in the exercise of its sovereignty.
If at all, he said the revocation of Dela Rosa’s visa should trigger a review of the VFA, which the Senate ratified on May 27, 1999.
Pimentel said he would summon officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to a Senate hearing this week to check if the VFA was still beneficial to the Philippines.
“I will call for a hearing and ask the DFA and the AFP to brief the [senators]… I just want to hear an accounting [of the VFA] and see what has happened 20 years after it was signed,” the senator said.
The review, he added, was also needed since the Philippines had similar military agreements with other countries. INQ
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