US welcomes Duterte’s decision to hold off VFA termination for 3rd time
MANILA, Philippines — The United States Embassy in Manila welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to extend for the third time the suspension of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“We welcome the Government of the Philippines’ decision to again suspend termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” the embassy said in a statement Tuesday.
“Our alliance continues to contribute not only to the security of our two nations, but also strengthens the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-Pacific,” it added.
On Monday night, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Duterte decided to once again extend the suspension of the VFA abrogation as the chief executive “studies” the pact and “both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement.”
Locsin did not elaborate which particular provisions of the pact the President has concerns about.
Officials from the Philippines and the US began discussions to iron out the two countries’ differences over the VFA last February, a year after Duterte pulled out from the agreement.
The process of the VFA termination, however, has been held off in June 2020 and a second time in November 2020.
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.
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