Ex-DFA chief says scrapping VFA a ‘national tragedy,’ harmful to PH
MANILA, Philippines—Pushing away a “reliable ally” like the United States is “harmful” to the Philippines, the country’s former top diplomat said Wednesday as he criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Describing it a “national tragedy,” former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said that terminating the 29-year-old military agreement with the global superpower also puts an end to other key defense agreements with the US, namely, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
“What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy which should be resisted. It is our earnest hope that this most unfortunate decision to abrogate can be revisited,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
“Our people must take a stand. We appeal to our esteemed institutions such as Congress and the Supreme Court to lead us,” he added.
Signed in 1998, the VFA accorded legal status to US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
In an apparent reference to China, Del Rosario, also a former envoy to the US, said the Duterte administration’s foreign policy of “casting aside a long time reliable ally in favor of an aggressive neighbor that has been blatantly demonstrating its lack of respect for international law is incomprehensible and harmful to our country and our people.”
“We must be with responsible nations with whom we share our core values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. To stand otherwise, is not what Filipino are; it is not what we do; it is not what is right,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs, upon Duterte’s order, officially sent the notice to terminate the VFA to the US government.
Duterte ordered the termination of the military pact after the US canceled the visa of his longtime confidant Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who has also led the government’s bloody war on drugs.
Edited by JPV
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.