PH Navy to continue training with US despite gov’t plan to scrap VFA
SANGLEY POINT, Cavite — Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent threat to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, the Philippine Navy said they will continue to train with their American counterparts until the issue has been resolved.
“Maghihintay tayo until the VFA issue is resolved. We will continue to engage our closest allies in terms of training, capability upgrade. Tinutulungan naman tayo ng US (The US is helping us),” outgoing Navy chief Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad told reporters Wednesday.
Last week, Duterte ordered to terminate the VFA with US — a pact that allows American forces to train alongside Philippines troops — after the US visa of one of his allies linked to human rights violations had been canceled.
The President gave the US one month to correct the visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
There was no official reason from the US why the senator’s visa was canceled, but it was likely because of his role as the enforcer of the administration’s anti-drug campaign, which killed thousands and raised questions about human rights.
Empedrad said the VFA makes it easier for US forces to train here “without further documentation.”
The Philippines and US regularly hold joint military drills — big and small — to enhance their interoperability, and as part of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
Empedrad thinks that the scrapping of the VFA would not have a big impact on the Philippine military.
“I don’t think so…It depends. If we can get a lot of capabilities. Marami namang (There are a lot of) other countries that we can have relationships with as far as training and upgrade of armed forces is concerned,” he said.
Edited by JPV
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