Senate president pushes for VFA exploratory talks between PH, Japan | Global News

Senate president pushes for VFA exploratory talks between PH, Japan

/ 02:26 PM February 09, 2023
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri pushed the Philippines and Japan to start exploratory discussions on crafting a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri. Senate PRIB file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri pushed the Philippines and Japan to start exploratory discussions on crafting a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Zubiri noted that his proposal makes “strategic sense.”

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“It makes strategic sense. Japan is an ally, and with ongoing territorial disputes over our waters, we stand to benefit from stronger security cooperation with our allies,” he said in a media interview.

Zubiri said he initially raised the idea of a Philippine-Japan VFA when he spoke with Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko last year.

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Formal talks about VFA have not reached President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. But, Zubiri said that the president’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio may be a favorable time to float the proposal.

Marcos is currently in Japan for an official visit. Zubiri is part of the Philippine delegation.

“Japan is already offering vital support to our Coast Guard, not just through vessels and equipment but also through other capacity-building opportunities such as training. The VFA will strengthen our partnership even further,” Zubiri said.

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“Peaceful diplomacy remains our foremost move toward conflict resolution, but we also have to be prepared for any eventuality,” he continued. “With Japan on our side, we will be able to empower our Coast Guard and Armed Forces in times of conflict.”

Zubiri further said that the VFA will be “helpful” to the Philippines during natural calamities and disasters.

“Let us remember that Japan is just as disaster-prone as we are, and so they have made it a priority to ensure that their armed forces are well-equipped to conduct disaster management efforts and rescue operations. Our armed forces can use their disaster management training and knowledge, to help us become a more resilient country as well,” the Senate President said.

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Zubiri is confident that the Senate will support his proposal.

“Given all the benefits we stand to gain from the VFA, I am hopeful that we will be able to begin formal discussions about it soon, and I am pretty certain that we will be able to garner enough support in the Senate for it,” he said.

Currently, the Philippines has a VFA with its ally, the United States.

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RELATED STORY:

Marcos looking at extending VFA with US 

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