Other PH-US defense pacts may be in jeopardy too, Panelo says
MANILA, Philippines – Other defense agreements between the Philippines and the United States may “likely” to be abrogated too, based on the way President Rodrigo Duterte handled the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday.
“The way his body language says mukhang ayaw niya na rin ‘yan (it looks like he doesn’t like them anymore too),” Panelo said in an interview over dzMM.
The Palace official was referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the VFA, while the MDT, which was signed in 1951, dictates that both nations would support each other if either the Philippines or the US were to be attacked by an external party.
Panelo’s statement is in stark contrast to his previous ones where he said that the country’s other military agreements and alliance with the US will remain despite the termination of the VFA.
On Tuesday, Duterte ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to formally send the notice to terminate the VFA.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, noted that the President will not entertain any move from the US to salvage the VFA.
Duterte’s order came after the US canceled the visa of his longtime confidant, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who also served as his police chief and oversaw his bloody war on drugs from 2016 to 2018.
The VFA, signed in 1998, accorded legal status to US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
US President Donald Trump said he is “fine” with the Philippines’ move, adding that the US government would save a lot of money in the termination of the military pact.
“If they would like to do that, that’s fine, we’ll save a lot of money,” Trump said.
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