Palace: US vaccine donations to PH likely among reasons why Duterte kept VFA
MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 vaccine donations from the United States are possibly among the reasons why President Rodrigo Duterte decided to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang said Monday.
While Duterte considered the “totality” of the situation, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque admitted part of the President’s decision could be because of the COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US government.
“I said, the totality of circumstances. There’s a good possibility po that was also part of the equation,” Roque said in a press briefing when asked if the vaccine donations were part of why the VFA was kept.
“Kung talagang gugustuhin ni Presidente, talagang pinatuloy na niya ‘yung termination ng VFA. Pero nakailang beses siya ng extension ng termination at siguro po ‘yung mga totality ng mga pangyayari recently at saka ‘yung thorough assessment of what constitutes the national interest prompted him to withdraw his earlier termination,” he added.
(If the President really wants, he could have proceeded with the termination of the VFA. But the termination was extended a number of times and maybe the totality of what happened recently and the thorough assessment of what constitutes the national interest prompted him to withdraw his earlier termination.)
The Philippines recently received 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine donated by the US government. Another 3 million doses of the Moderna vaccine still from the US government are expected to arrive this week.
Duterte recalled the abrogation of the VFA last week after meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on July 29.
In February 2020, Duterte threatened the agreement’s abrogation should the U.S. fail to “correct” the cancellation of his ally, former police chief, and Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa’s visa. The abrogation of the VFA had been suspended three times since then.
Previously, the President demanded the United States to pay if it wants to keep its VFA with the Philippines.
Duterte had even threatened he would continue to terminate the VFA if the US could not provide the Philippines with its COVID-19 vaccines.
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