Military to abide by Duterte’s decision on VFA fate

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it will abide by President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s guidance regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States after its termination was put on hold.

“We will abide fully by the final guidance of the President as regards the VFA,” AFP spokesperson Marine Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a press statement.

From the perspective of the AFP, he said the VFA translates to joint and interoperability training opportunities to benefit both Manila and Washington DC.

“This is in furtherance of the existing Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 that still has force and effect,” Arevalo said.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte may postpone for another six months the termination of VFA.

Roque added that the President is in no rush to decide on the VFA’s fate because the notification sent to the US government gives them at least a one-year leeway before it is 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 Washington DC’s alleged assault on Manila’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.

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