PH, US working ‘very hard’ to restore ‘very important’ VFA — envoy
MANILA, Philippines — The United States and the Philippines are “working very hard” to restore the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries as they hope to reach a “satisfactory arrangement” to continue the defense pact, Washington’s top diplomat to Manila said Thursday.
“The Visiting Forces Agreement is very important, we support it and we’re hopeful that we can arrive at a satisfactory arrangement to continue that,” U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires John Law told reporters on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 245th anniversary of the U.S. Independence Day Thursday.
“While we will continue to work very hard to restore the visiting forces agreement, we’ll continue to work very hard to do everything we can to continuously strengthen and reinforce the Mutual Defense Treaty,” he added.
Nevertheless, Law stressed that the relations between the Philippines and the U.S., which is on its 75th year in 2021, “is more than merely a defense agreement.”
“We have always had enormous faith in the future of U.S.-Philippine relations and alliance,” he said.
“We have an extremely important relationship with the Philippines and we’re determined to do everything we can at all times to make it strong,” he added.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte held off for the third time the termination of the VFA as he “studies” the pact and “both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement.”
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 has already been suspended in June 2020 and then 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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