Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Friday urged President Duterte to maintain the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.
“The President wants to feel the public pulse on the VFA. I think most Filipinos not only support the agreement but want the government to strengthen Philippine-US relations,” he said.
The representative of Cagayan de Oro’s second district said he is adding his and his constituents’ voice to the popular sentiment in support of forging closer ties with the US.
The VFA came into force on May 27,1999.
“Our people have a natural affinity with America, not only because of our decades of partnership but also because of our close cultural and social ties,” he said.
“America is also home for millions of Filipinos”, he added.
He observed that Filipinos trust America to honor its commitments to the Philippines, including those under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
The MDT was signed on August 30, 1951.
Rodriguez pointed out despite the Duterte administration’s foreign policy pivot to China, Filipinos consider the US as a more reliable ally in all aspects of foreign relations.
“In contrast, they do not trust the Chinese, especially in the wake of their aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and inside our 200-mile exclusive economic zone, most of which Beijing illegally claims as part of its territorial waters,” he stressed.
The House leader also supported the President’s suggestion that the United States should extend more military and economic assistance to the Philippines in the event the VFA is maintained.
“It’s a reasonable proposal. The President wants fair treatment, comparable to what America is giving its other allies in this part of the world,” Rodriguez said.