US-PH alliance 'in the hearts of our people' despite VFA's non-renewal, says top US Embassy official

Published July 1, 2021, 7:46 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the non-renewal of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), United States Embassy Charge’ d’Affaires John Law believes that the US-Philippine alliance will continue because it is “in the hearts” of both the American and Filipino people.

United States Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law during the opening rites of the 245th US Independence Day celebration at the US Embassy in Manila on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (US Embassy)

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the 245th Independence Day celebration at the US Embassy Thursday, Law reiterated their support to the VFA and expressed hope that both sides can arrive at a “satisfactory” arrangement to continue the agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

“We have always had enormous faith in the future of the US-Philippine relations and of the US-Philippine alliance. And while we’ll continue to work very hard to restore the VFA, we’ll continue to work very hard to do everything that we can to continuously strengthen and reinforce the Mutual Defense Treaty. But US-Philippine alliance, I believe, is in the hearts of our people so I think it’s gonna continue,” Law said.

In his welcome remarks, Law acknowledged that the celebration of the US Independence Day in Manila also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the US-Philippines bilateral relations.

“I have utmost confidence that those ties will continue to prosper and thrive, to the benefit of both our peoples, over the next 75 years and beyond, because, at the heart of those ties is yet another proposition: of lasting friendship and partnership of the American and Filipino people. And to that proposition, I assure you the United States is and will forever remain dedicated,” he said.

When asked by reporters about the potential sale of F16s and other military equipment to the Philippines, Law welcomed the opportunity and assured that the US stands ready to cooperate with the Philippines in terms of its overall modernization plan.

He explained that as part of the US sale process, there has to be some congressional notification requirement while the Philippine defense department, on the other hand, is studying and considering what it intends to do with its modernization plan.

“We of course welcome that opportunity because it further strengthens the interoperability and the cooperation between our two militaries. So in every aspect where the Philippine government is interested and believes that US defense material may be appropriate, the US stands ready to help,” Law said.

United States Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law with guests donning the Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty costumes during the 245th US Independence Day celebration on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (US Embassy)

Last week, the US State Department approved the likely sale of fighter jets and other sophisticated military hardware to the Philippines with an estimated value of over $2.5 billion.

The announcement of the sale came shortly after the Philippines again suspended for another six months the abrogation of the two-decade-old VFA that was supposedly due to expire in August.

In February last year, the Philippine government notified the United States of its decision to terminate the VFA following the cancellation of the US visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, a staunch ally of President Duterte and a key figure in the latter’s bloody war-on-drugs campaign.