Duterte decision on VFA’s fate coming soon — Amb. Romualdez
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide on the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) soon following productive talks between the Philippines and the United States, Manila’s top envoy in Washington, D.C. said Friday.
“A lot of time has been spent by both our countries’ panels to discuss some of the things that we wanted to improve in that agreement,” Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Romualdez said in a joint online press briefing celebrating the 75th anniversary of ties between Manila and Washington.
“It’s now in the Office of the President and I expect it to come out anytime now and we’re very hopeful, hopeful that the VFA will continue because it’s an important piece of agreement,” he added.
The VFA, which took effect in 1999, provides a mechanism for visiting American soldiers and serves as the foundation for military exercises and humanitarian work.
Duterte pulled out from the VFA in February last year. The process of the VFA termination, however, has been held off twice, first in June 2020 and a second time in November 2020.
Officials from the Philippines and the US began discussions last February to iron out the two countries’ differences over the VFA.
According to U.S. Charge d’affaires in the Philippines John Law, discussions between the U.S. and its oldest ally in Asia lasted for weeks.
“We had, I think, very productive, very good conversations between representatives of both governments. There have been very specific proposals related to how we can clarify and strengthen the implementation of the VFA,” Law said.
“That is currently awaiting the decision of President Duterte so the status is that we are waiting for the Philippine government’s decision. We think the VFA has been a fundamental part of helping make the Mutual Defense Treaty successful,” he added.
He expressed Washington’s commitment to ensure the success of its alliance with Manila.
“That commitment is going to remain strong,” Law added.
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