Lorenzana: Pause in VFA end to help Duterte make ‘informed decision’
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to suspend the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States for another six months.
The six-month extension, according to Lorenzana, will give the defense department more time to study the future of the VFA.
“With the additional six months, we will further review the pros and cons of the VFA, especially regarding various concerns of mutual importance to our two countries, with the end in view of helping the President arrive at an informed decision on the matter,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
In February, Lorenzana said the defense and military establishments want to keep the VFA with the US, which lists rules for American troops operating in the Philippines.
Duterte suspended the effectivity of the decision to end the agreement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced on Monday (June 14), to further study the agreement and address the President’s concerns on some of its aspects. The termination had been suspended twice already.
Duterte unilaterally cancelled the VFA in 2020 in response to Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa’s failure to secure a US visa. Dela Rosa is one of Duterte’s trusted allies and his first national police chief.
The Philippines is a US treaty ally and several military agreements are dependent on the VFA, which provides rules for the rotation of thousands of U.S. troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises.
Having the ability to rotate in troops is important not only for the defense of the Philippines, but strategically for the United States when it comes to countering China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the region. With Reuters