Senate OKs resolution asking Duterte to reconsider VFA abrogation
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has adopted a resolution asking the President to reconsider his plan to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States while the upper chamber conducts a “thorough” review of the military accord.
During its session on Monday, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 312 asking the President to rethink his plan to withdraw from the defense pact “in the meantime that the Senate is conducting a thorough review of the same.”
The resolution was contained under Committee Report No. 43, which was sponsored by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee.
Last January 23, the President gave the US government 30 days to rectify the visa cancellation of his political ally Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa or he would abrogate the two-decades-old military accord.
Pimentel’s committee held an inquiry into the VFA last week, where Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that the country’s withdrawal from the agreement would “negatively impact” the overall relations of the Philippines and the United States.
Locsin had cited the benefits of the VFA to the Philippines, as well as the risks, particularly in the country’s military and security arrangements, should the said military pact be abrogated.
“Therefore, a careful deliberation of these matters must be taken into account before finally arriving at a decision which will ultimately affect not only the security and economy of the Philippines but also that of our neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific region,” Pimentel said.
For Senate President Vicente Sotto III, he said international relations are essential for cooperation between countries, promotion of trade policies, advancement of human culture and maintenance of peace and stability in the country.
“In a developing country like our, it is more beneficial and prudent to maintain if not gain allies than to challenge our status quo. Our country is currently benefiting from our partner states which include the United States of America,” Sotto said.
“It is my view that the better way to go is to review the agreement and ask the executive department to reconsider its intent of of abrogation while the Senate, who is a partner in this agreement, is reviewing it,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, moved to include Senate Resolution No. 305 expressing the sense of the Senate that the termination or withdrawal from treaties and international agreements should only be valid and effective upon the concurrence of the Senate.
The VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999, governs the conduct of US troops who take part in military exercises in the Philippines.
No senator objected when Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri moved to adopt the resolution.
Dela Rosa, whose visa cancellation triggered Duterte’s threat to scrap the VFA, abstained from voting on the resolution.
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