“The reason that was told is because of this current pandemic, plus, we need to cooperate with other countries to fight the pandemic and I think [President Rodrigo Duterte] thought that it’s untimely to end the [Visiting Forces Agreement] at this time,” National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
With the suspension, Secretary Lorenzana said US and Philippine military will continue with their usual activities.
The suspension of VFA abrogation is for six months with option for another 6-month suspension. Notification for VFA termination was sent by Philippine government in February and was suppose to take effect August.
“We discussed about it I think [President Duterte] said it’s not timely to end the VFA because of what’s happening worldwide,” Secretary Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana said that he supports the suspension “because of our longstanding relationship with the United States, to end the decades long relationship with US military will be very abrupt.”
“We learned a lot from them and they a lot from us. They are our ally through the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty). I believe that we should continue engaging with them in exercises so that we can develop interoperabitliy, develop common doctrines, not only fighting armed groups, but specially now fighting the pandemic an other threats to our nation like calamities,” the defense chief explained.