By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has vowed not to renege on his decision to terminate the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States despite the Senate’s move challenging his unilateral action before the Supreme Court.
The President said the government has started to count the days for the American troops to “pack up and go.”
“They cannot compel me. I refuse to be compelled. I have terminated it. Tapos ang problem ko (my problem is over),” Duterte said during a press conference in the Palace Monday.
“Insofar as I am concerned, we are beginning to count the 180 days for them to pack up and go. I am not reneging on the VFA (termination),” he added.
Duterte maintained that he respects United States President Donald Trump but would not pursue any talks to reconsider the VFA termination.
“I am not going to America to discuss this with anybody though I respect highly (Mr.) Trump,” he said.
On Monday, the Senate asked the Supreme Court to compel the Office of the President to get
the upper chamber’s concurrence in the government’s decision to end the VFA. In the petition for declaratory relief and mandamus, the Senate argued that the VFA is a treaty that was concurred into by two thirds of senators back in 1999.
The government formally notified the United States about its desire to terminate the military pact that allows American troops to train Filipino soldiers in the country. The termination will take effect after 180 days from receipt of the US government last February 11.
Duterte had blasted the alleged inequities in the treaty provisions as well as a string of US actions that supposedly disrespected the country’s sovereignty and justice system.
Recently, he claimed that the United States government is trying to reach out to his government following its decision to scrap the two-decade-old military deal. But Duterte insisted that he would “stick to his guns” and terminate the VFA with the United States.