Locsin: PH to continue ‘strong’ military ties with US with suspension of VFA termination
MANILA, Philippines — With the suspension of the pending termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Philippines is looking forward to continuing its “strong” military ties with the United States.
This was according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as he formally announced on Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to suspend the abrogation of the VFA.
“We are pleased to announce, in light of recent developments, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte instructed me to inform, via diplomatic note, the ambassador of the United States that he has decided to suspend the pending termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which has several months more to run,” Locsin said in a barely three-minute press conference on Wednesday.
Posted by Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines on Tuesday, June 2, 2020
“We look forward to continuing our strong military partnership with the United States even as we continue to reach out to our regional allies in building a common defense towards enduring stability and peace and continuing economic progress and prosperity in our part of the world,” he added.
It was on Tuesday night when Locsin made public via Twitter the diplomatic note dated June 1 informing the US Embassy in Manila that the Philippine government will suspend the VFA termination for now.
The suspension will be effective for six months from June 1 and will be “extendible by the Philippines for another six months.”
‘Why did he change his mind?’
Last January 23, 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 Philippine formally pulled out from the defense pact on February 11, from which began the 180-day countdown to the official end of the VFA.
Locsin did not state any categorical reason why Duterte decided to halt the termination of the VFA but cited the “vast and swiftly changing circumstances of the world.”
“I will answer only one question, which I will ask myself: Why? Why did he change his mind? A man who does not change his mind cannot change anything. And he ran with a slogan ‘Change is coming’,” the DFA chief went on.
“But in the vast and swiftly changing circumstances of the world, in the time of pandemic and heightened superpower tensions, a world leader must be quick in mind and fast on his feet for the safety of our nation and the peace of the world,” he added.
Locsin then assured that the Philippine government’s move to suspend the VFA termination “alarms no countries in Asia and the rest of the world.”
“On the contrary, it greatly reassures everyone. Everyone now is free to speculate about what is clear and true on its face,” he said.
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