Commission on visiting forces reorganized, now an attached agency of DFA

By Genalyn Kabiling

The commission monitoring the movement of visiting foreign military forces in the country will now be attached to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), but with oversight coming from the Office of the President.

The latest reorganization in the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces (PCVF) was part of the Executive Order No. 97 signed by President Duterte last November 29.

PCVF is the lead inter-agency mechanism that provides policy coordination and advice, guidance, and assessment to ensure that all Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) serve the national interest.

"There is a need to further reorganize the PCVF to ensure an effective integration of its functions with the Government's independent foreign policy," the order read.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is mandated to serve as the channel for matters involving foreign relations, and to carry out legal documentation functions as provided by law and regulations," it said.

The order amended EO 175 in 2014 that previously placed the commission under the Office of the President with the Executive Secretary as chairman.

Under the new presidential order, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will now serve as chairman of the commission.

Two additional members of the commission are National Security Adviser and a representative from the Office of the President.

The Secretary of National Defense currently serves as vice chairman with the secretaries of justice, social welfare and interior and local government, Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces Agreement executive director, and a representative from the private sector, as members

Another amendment to the commission was the President's appointment or designation of an Executive Director upon the recommendation of the DFA and the Department of National Defense (DND).

"In case of a designation of an Executive Director, he or she shall be a senior government official with rank of at least an Assistant Secretary. The Executive Director shall report directly to the Chairman of the Commission," the order read.

The latest EO takes effect after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper. A copy of the EO has been released to the public by the Palace on Tuesday.