President Rodrigo Duterte is in “no immediate rush” to abrogate the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte may postpone for another six months the termination of VFA.
“That (VFA termination) has an option of being further extended by another six months. So, my thinking is, perhaps the President will invoke the second six month time to finally abrogate the VFA,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source. “But, anyway, what I am saying is, there is no immediate rush for the President to decide because the notification we sent to the Americans gives them at least one year leeway before it’s abrogated.”
Duterte decided to suspend the planned revocation of the military pact with Washington DC last June.
The suspension of the VFA’s termination is expected to end next month.
In February, Duterte scrapped the VFA over its alleged inequities in its treaty provisions and the US’s alleged assault on the country’s sovereignty and disrespect for its judicial system.
His decision came following criticism of some US senators against his crackdown on illegal drugs, as well as the cancellation of the US visa of his ally, former national police chief, and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa.
He never mentioned to his Cabinet members his plan to suspend the abrogation of VFA.
The VFA was supposed to be abrogated 180 days after the Philippines sent a formal notice of termination to the US on Feb. 11 this year.
However, Manila notified Washington DC in June about Duterte’s decision to suspend the revocation of the VFA.
The revocation of the military pact between the two countries was suspended “in light of political and other developments in the region”.
According to the diplomatic note dated June 1 and addressed to the US government, the suspension of VFA’s termination is effective for six months but can be extended by the Philippines for another six months.
The VFA, a military pact signed between the Philippines and the US in 1998, allows American troops who are participating in joint military exercises to visit Manila without passport and visa. PNA.GOV.PH