President Duterte has decided to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) by another six months, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced on Monday.
Locsin said the decision was relayed to him and to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez during their meeting with the President.
According to Locsin, the six months extension of the suspension of VFA’s termination will provide the President time to study and both sides to further address the former’s “concerns” regarding particular aspects of the agreement.
When asked about what specific concerns that Duterte would like to address in the agreement with the US, DFA Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos said they are still waiting for Malacañang to identify the areas the President would like to look more closely.
For the second time in November 2020, the Philippines suspended the termination to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement that allows US troops to operate in the Philipines and use local military facilities.
Duterte had notified the United States in February last year that he was canceling the agreement in apparent outrage over the cancellation of the US visa of his close ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. Dela Rosa was Duterte’s chief of the Philippine National Police when the administration’s highly controversial “war on drugs” was implemented.
Here is the full text of Secretary Locsin’s 29-seconds video message:
“I have just come from a meeting with the President and Ambassador Jose Romualdez on the subject of the Visiting Forces Agreement. The President conveyed to us his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by another six months while he studies and both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement. Thank you.”