Duterte’s Order: Send U.S. Notice To Terminate Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

Duterte’s order: Send US the notice to terminate VFA

cnnphilippines.com · by CNN Philippines Staff

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte will order that the government’s notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) be sent to the United States government already, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Friday.

“[President Rodrigo Duterte] is instructing [Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea] to tell [the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr.] to send the notice of termination to the US government,” said Panelo in a text message.

Panelo said Duterte is also scheduled to speak with US President Donald Trump through a phone call “soon.” However, it is not yet clear when that call will take place and what they will discuss.

He added that he is not sure whether it was the President or Trump who asked for the phone call.

This comes a day after Locsin told the Senate that Duterte ordered him to hold off transmittal of the termination notice that he said had already been prepared.

“I have prepared a notice of termination but it has not been sent upon the orders of the President,” Locsin said in a Senate hearing Thursday

Under the two-decade military pact between the Philippines and the US, the VFA can be terminated via a written notice from either of the countries. Expiration will come 180 days from the time either party notifies the other.

Duterte ordered to scrap the VFA as a drastic response to the US government’s move to cancel Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa’s tourist visa.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson filed a resolution asking the President to reconsider his decision to terminate the VFA.

Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri cited economic complications if the country unilaterally withdraws from the agreement.

Maraming implications ‘yan. May economic implication, of course ‘yung military benefits and of course trade between the US and the Philippines baka magkaroon din ng kaunting komplikasyon at problema,” said Zubiri.

[Translation: That has a lot of implications. There are economic implications even on the military benefits and of course trade between the US and the Philippines, there may be a few complications and problems]

Locsin also said the country would stand to lose around P10 billion in aid, such as military assistance and financial grants from the US, should the termination push through.

When Senators asked Locsin if the President consulted the Foreign Affairs Department before ordering to scrap the VFA, the secretary said Duterte did not approach him.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the entire Executive branch is backing the President on his decision.

“They [are] ready to terminate once given the signal. That’s the impression I got yesterday,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.

cnnphilippines.com · by CNN Philippines Staff

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