No halt of 2020 military exercises with US for now: DND

Military exercises with American forces scheduled for this year will continue despite the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the VFA, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” Lorenzana said in a statement sent to reporters.

However, Lorenzana said the United States always has the option to cancel military drills planned for 2020 before the lapse of the 180-day period.

“Once the termination is final, we will cease to have exercises with them,” he added.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to send a formal notification to Washington DC regarding Manila’s decision to revoke the VFA, which was signed in February 1998.

On Tuesday, Locsin announced that the formal termination notice has already been received by the US government.

The VFA’s effectivity will end 180 days from the day the US formally received the formal notice from the Philippines.

The agreement exempts American forces from passport and visa regulations and allows them to use their permits and licenses in the Philippines.

It also gives the US jurisdiction over its troops who committed unlawful acts in the Philippines, unless these crimes can be punished in the host country. PNA.GOV.PH