Palace positive US won’t terminate other defense pacts with PH
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang expressed confidence Monday that the United States will not terminate its other military treaties with the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to ditch the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, in a Palace press briefing, claimed the US needs its military treaties with the Philippines to “protect itself.”
“I think the treaties benefit more the United States than the Philippines. Strategically, the US needs to be in almost every part of the world to secure itself from its perceived enemies,” Panelo pointed out.
Duterte has already ordered concerned agencies to start the process of terminating the VFA after the US canceled the visa of his long-time confidant and former police chief, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
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. It was ratified by the Senate in 1999 despite fears that it may violate Philippine sovereignty.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, claimed that the President can unilaterally terminate the agreement without the concurrence of Congress as it was a mere “executive agreement.”
“Since its an executive agreement…there is no need for the concurrence of the Senate. Moreover, the Constitution does not say that it requires concurrence by Senate in connection with the termination of executive agreements and for that matter, treaties,” Panelo said.
The Palace official likewise lamented the privileges the visiting American soldiers enjoy under VFA.
Panelo said that under VFA, the Philippines cannot have jurisdiction over American soldiers who committed crimes unless the crime is “of significant importance.”
American military personnel are also not required to apply for a visa, Panelo claimed, adding that US aircraft and ships are given “unrestricted movement” within Philippine territories.
Edited by KGA
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