PH walks back, suspends VFA termination ‘upon the President’s instruction’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has suspended the revocation of its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Manila’s top diplomat said Tuesday.
However, the suspension will only be for six months from June 1 and will be “extendible by the Philippines for another six months.”
“I issued this diplomatic note to the US ambassador. It has been received by Washington and well at that. The Note is self-explanatory and does not require comment except from me,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted.
According to the accompanying document of Locsin’s tweet, the Philippine government through the Department of Foreign Affairs informed the government of the United States of America “that in light of political and other developments in the region” the termination of the bilateral military agreement as initiated by the Philippines “is hereby suspended.”
I issued this diplomatic note to the US ambassador. It has been received by Washington and well at that. The Note is self-explanatory and does not require comment except from me. The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction. pic.twitter.com/BXqzyNpOty
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) June 2, 2020
“The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction,” Locsin also explained in his tweet.
Meanwhile, the United States welcomed this decision of the Philippine government, even saying that it looks forward to the continued military cooperation between the two countries.
“The United States welcomes the Philippine government’s decision. Our long-standing alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement released shortly after the DFA’s chief’s tweet.
On January 23, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the US government 30 days to rectify the visa cancellation of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, or he would discontinue the two-decade-old military accord.
The Philippines officially pulled out from the defense agreement on February 11.
VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999, governs the conduct of US troops who take part in military exercises in the Philippines.