By Ben Rosario
After terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), President Duterte must also put the finishing touches in asserting the country’s national sovereignty by likewise putting an end to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), both military cooperation pacts between the Philippines and the United States.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate aired this challenge to the chief executive on Tuesday as Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffino Biazon, vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, said the Philippines must now revise its defense and security strategies and plans as a result of the VFA’s abrogation.
“There may be a need for the Philippines to revise its defense and security strategies and plans to determine the appropriate adjustments in terms of deployment of military assets, appropriation of resources, engagement with foreign counterparts and regional military alliances,” said Biazon in a statement.
The senior administration lawmaker also saw the need for the government to revise its foreign relations strategy “to enable the Philippines to adapt to the after-effects of this new configuration in the security set up in our region of the world.”
“The advantages of having the VFA has been emphasized already by the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and National Defense but if it is the decision of the President as the chief architect of foreign policy to terminate it, the responsible thing to do now is to provide for the means to fill the gap that will result from the termination,” said Biazon.
Zarate welcomed the signing by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. of the Notice of Termination of the VFA, saying this should be followed by a similar presidential decision to terminate “the more onerous” MDT and EDCA.
“President Duterte should not stop with the scrapping of VFA only; MDT and EDCA should also be terminated as they are as onerous and violative, too, of our national sovereignty,” said Zarate in a statement.
“They are vestiges of neocolonial control of the US, a tool for direct intervention in the country, facilitating for instance the return of their basing facilities, interference in the counterinsurgency operations,” he explained.
“These agreements effectively transformed the Philippines as the biggest US base in the world and should have long been terminated,” Zarate added.