Philippines suspends VFA abrogation
Philippines suspends VFA termination
MANILA – The Philippine government opted to suspend the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement as earlier mentioned in Note No. 20-0463 dated February 11,2020.
In a Note to the Embassy of the United States of America dated June 1,2020, Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said the suspension was due to the political and other developments in the region.
In the same Note, Secretary Locsin said the suspension shall start on even date and shall continue for six months “which period is extendible by the Philippines for another six months.” However, it added the tolling of the initial period in Note Verbale No. 20-0463 dated February 11,2020 will resume.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the United States of America the assurances of its highest consideration.” Secretary Locsin concluded.
In his Tweet at 8:00 P.M., Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Locsin said he issued a diplomatic note to the US Ambassador.
“It has been received by Washington and well at that. The Note is self-explanatory and does not require comment except from me. The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction,” he added.
It will be recalled Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said last February 28,2020 that he was told “the door is not totally shot. He was referring to the Philippine government’s decision to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement after the U. S. Immigration cancelled former PNP Chief and now Senator Ronaldo dela Rosa’s visa.
Ambassador Romualdez told participants in a Security conference organized by the Albert Del Rosario Institute in Makati City that they are looking at how to “polish” the VFA which is an offshoot of the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 between the United States of America and the Philippines.
It was last February 11 that the Philippines sent notice to the United States of America that it is terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement which is due to take effect after 180 days. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was quoted saying the decision was towards a “wrong direction.” President Donald Trump welcomed the Philippines’ decision as it would save his government some money.
Ambassador Romualdez said they are trying to prepare something similar agreements with Japan and Australia and that the options will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte. (Melo M. Acuña)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (DFA Photo)