By Mario B. Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, today said President Duterte’s decision to suspend the abrogation of the Philippine-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is a welcome development as far as defense and economic security of the country is concerned.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon joined Lacson’s position that indeed the President’s ‘’sudden policy change is a welcome development.’’
‘’The unhampered implementation of the VFA will serve the interest of our country, particularly with regard to the preservation of our rights over parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS),’’ Drilon, a former Senate President, explained.
In a statement, Lacson said that ‘’first, just so I am clear where I’m coming from – I am not pro or anti-American, as in actual fact, they took away my US visa a long time ago.’’
‘’Nor am I pro or anti Chinese since I have many friends in and out of Beijing,’’ he added.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, stressed that the Philippines needs the VFA especially now that Chinese intrusions into Philippine territory particularly in the WPS have become commonplace.
‘’The last thing that we should lose is the balance of power that the USA among other allies like Australia and other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors can provide to suit our national interest and territorial integrity. It is a no-brainer that we can’t stand on our own and protect ourselves from harassments coming from those intrusions,’’ he said.