Let your voice be heard.
Filipinos may send their position about the country’s visiting forces agreement (VFA) with the United States to the government by phone call, text, or email, according to a Palace official.
President Duterte earlier remained undecided on whether or not to pursue the termination of the country’s military deal with the United States, opting to get the feedback of the public first.
“Nais niyang marinig ang opinyon ng mga Pilipino bago siya magdesisyon kung ano ang kaniyang aksyong gagawin tungkol sa usapin ng Visiting Forces Agreement (He wants to hear the opinion of Filipinos before he makes a decision on what to do with the visiting forces agreement),”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, Feb. 25.
“Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate to send an email, message or reach any line of our government agencies so they will reach the President),” he added.
Roque said the President recognized the Philippines-US military pact has its share of benefits but the cost of American troops’ presence in the country could be steep especially if a full-blown conflict breaks out in the region.
The VFA, signed between Manila and Washington in 1998, governs the conduct of visiting American soldiers in the country.
Duterte ordered its scrapping last year over alleged unfair treaty provisions but allowed to defer the abrogation for another six months amid the pandemic.
“Sinabi po niya kapag nagkaroon ng putukan sa panig ng Amerika at Tsina ay siguradong mauuna pang tatargetin ang mga Pilipino. Kaya pinag-aaralan niya nang mabuti kung anong magiging desisyon niya sa Visiting Forces Agreement (He said if war breakouts between the US and China, Filipinos will likely be targeted first. So the President is studying carefully his decision on the visiting forces agreement),” he said.
In a televised address Wednesday, Feb. 24, the President admitted that he has yet to decide on whether to “abrogate or renew” the visiting forces agreement with the United States “because I want to hear the people.”
He said people can give their opinion on VFA through the government’s 8888 hotline.
“Ordinary mamamayan (citizens) can have the say and I said there’s always the 888 and you can enter your objections or any comment that you think would help the country. Pati kami dito, matulungan ninyo (You can help us),” he said.
The President recently asked the United States to pay if it wanted to retain the military deal. He later clarified that he wanted weapons, not necessarily money, from the US in case the conflict in the South China Sea escalates.