At least two senators, on Friday, May 27 threw their support behind President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s plan to continue and even improve the 23-year-old PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
The VFA was signed on May 27, 1999 by Thomas Hubbard, representing the United States, and Domingo L. Siazon Jr., representing the Philippines. It binds both countries to strengthen the security of both countries.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, said the alliance between the Philippines and the United States is needed as developments in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are moving at a fast pace.
The agriculture sector complained that fish catch by the Philippines is low because of the presence of Chinese vessels in the WPS, a part of the vast South China Sea,
China also continues to maintain its military presence in the western portion of the WPS.
President-elect Marcos reiterated yesterday that that his administration would never cede a millimeter of its territory to any country.
In 1916, the United Nations Arbitration Court rejected the ‘historical’ claim of China over most parts of the South China Sea, including the WPS.
Lacson emphasized that the Philippines should not only strengthen its alliance with the US but also with other developed nations such as Australia, Japan, Canada and the European Union to ensure a stable and peaceful South China Sea and the entire Indo-China region.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, sees the need for a review of the VFA with a view to making it fair to both sides.
Pimentel cited the need for Filipinos to get visas to go the US but Americans do not need visas to come to the Philippines.
The President-elect had said he and a ranking US official talked about the need for an extension of the VFA and improvement on some details in the agreement.
It will be recalled that President Duterte rejected the VFA but later agreed to the continuation of the agreement.