On instructions of President Duterte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday handed over the diplomatic note recalling the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III after the US have addressed “with good faith” issues arising from the security relationship between the two countries.
In a statement, Locsin said the United States has shown its commitment to fulfill its obligations to the Philippines under the alliance.
Austin was in the country for a two-day visit as part of this three-nation Southeast Asian swing.
“They have addressed issues arising from our security relationship with good faith. Together, we have moved forward on the basis of common interest, shared values and mutual respect,” the DFA chief said.
Locsin further said that the alliance has stayed strong and “overcome challenges” since VFA abrogation was served to the US government via the US Embassy in Manila in February 2020.
“It is vital to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region. All the protagonists in the region, without a single exception, see a strong US presence as imperative to peace and stability in Southeast Asia. They are the precondition for mutually beneficial cooperation rather than destructive conflict among themselves,” he said.
The recall of the VFA termination comes at the heel of this year’s double celebration of the 75th Philippines-US diplomatic relations and 70 years of Mutual Defense Treaty.
“This is a special year for the Philippines-U.S. alliance. We celebrate not just 75 years of diplomatic relations, but also 70 years of the Mutual Defense Treaty, 70 years of the United States being our only defense treaty ally,” the country’s top diplomat said.
In February last year, Duterte ordered Locsin to deliver the letter of VFA abrogation to the US government through the US Embassy in Manila in apparent retaliation to the cancellation of the US visa of his close ally, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. Dela Rosa was Duterte’s first chief of the Philippine National Police.