Lacson lauds Marcos for strengthening PH-US alliance, discussing extension of VFA

Published May 25, 2022, 3:33 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Wednesday praised presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for openly expressing his plan to discuss the re-signing or extension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Presidential candidate Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point. (O/S Lacson)

Lacson was reacting to Marcos, Jr.’s move to raise security issues during his meeting with US Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava at his election campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City where he raised the issue of extending the VFA with the diplomat.

“In the advent of the sovereignty and territorial integrity issues fast developing in the West Philippines Sea, there couldn’t be a better move by the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. than strengthen our alliance not only with the US but with other like-minded developed countries like the European Union (EU), Australia, Japan and Canada to preserve the peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire Indo-China region,” Lacson said.

Marcos, Jr.’s stance on the US-PH bilateral relationship is a stark contrast to President Duterte’s administration’s stand on the VFA and with the US.

Duterte had earlier said that the US “will have to pay” if it intends to keep the VFA with the Philippines, citing the possibility of the country facing grave risks should hostilities break out between US and China.

Lacson, who ran for president in the May 9, 2022 elections but has since then conceded defeat to Marcos, Jr., had criticized Duterte’s statements who, in 2021, told the US government that “not all” Filipinos were extortionists who demanded payment for the continuation of the VFA.

Later on, he said that while he believes Duterte only wanted a “fair share of the agreement”, he hoped the President could have made pronouncements in a “diplomatic way.”

Variava was one of the senior diplomats that met with Marcos, Jr. two weeks after he appeared to be ahead of his rivals in the May 2022 presidential race.

Other ambassadors from Japan, South Korea and India, also paid “courtesy call” on Marcos, Jr. son and namesake of the late ousted dictator.

“Security concerns, of course, have always been a big part of our relationship with the United States,” Marcos, Jr. said in his first news conference.