By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has formally informed the United States about its termination of a two-decade military treaty but remained hopeful the country’s relations with the western nation will become “warmer.”
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte wants to deal with countries “on the basis of equality and fairness,” and would not tolerate a “one-sided” agreement.
“It remains warm. Hopefully, it can be warmer,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing when asked about the country’s bilateral relations with the US following the VFA’s termination.
He observed that the United States government tends to give “preferential treatment” to countries critical of its policies while neglecting their allies.
“Because I’ve been noticing that those who have been critical of the US government policies have been given the preferential attention by the US government. Kapag babanatan sila, sinusuyo nila. ‘Yung kakampi nila, inaapi nila (If it is criticized, the US tends to woo them back. Their allies, on the other hand, are neglected),” he said.
Asked how the US government could improve ties with the country, Panelo said: “Sinasabi ni Presidente (The President has said) if we have to deal with other countries, we have to deal on the basis of equality and fairness. Hindi puwedeng one-sided lang ang agreement (The agreement must not be one-sided),” he added.
Panelo said the President ordered Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea Monday night to tell Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to send the notice of termination of the VFA to the US government.
Read more: Locsin signs VFA termination letter
The termination of the VFA, which governs the conduct of visiting US troops in the country, will take effect 180 days upon receipt by the US, according to Panelo.
“The Executive Secretary sent the message to Secretary Teddyboy Locsin and the latter signed the notice of termination and then sent to the US government today,” he said.
President Duterte earlier sought the country’s pullout from the VFA with the United States in protest of the cancellation of the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa. He previously lashed out at the US for allegedly disrespecting the country’s sovereignty.
Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said there was no need for the President to sign the notice of VFA termination himself.
Duterte earlier contacted Panelo via mobile phone after the Palace press conference to ask if his signature was needed in the document. Panelo told Duterte that the Cabinet member’s signature would suffice.