MANILA – The process for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States has commenced, Malacañang announced Friday.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the order, a day after making a threat in his speech in Leyte.
“The process for terminating the same has started. The President feels that we cannot sit down idly,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing at the Malacañang Palace.
He added the Palace will no longer wait for Washington’s response on Duterte’s warning to reverse the cancellation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa within a month.
“US Ambassador Sung Kim have sought a meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to discuss the impending termination of VFA,” Panelo said.
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin also ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to start the termination process.
President Duterte earlier issued a warning that he will not think twice to cancel the agreement if the US will not correct the matter involving Dela Rosa’s US visa.
“Karon si Bato di nila paadtuon sa America. I (am) warning you this is the first time, pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, one, I will terminate the bases Visiting Forces Agreement. Tapusin ko ‘yang putangina,” Duterte said.
“I am giving notice and they begin to count. I am giving government and the American government one month from now, mag estorya me, pahawaon ko sila sa ilang Visiting Forces Agreement,” he added.
The Philippines and the US are treaty allies, having signed the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that obliges American troops to help defend the Philippines if it comes under attack.
An attack against Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft falls under its obligations in the treaty.
The US and the Philippines also inked the VFA and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows greater US troops’ access to Philippine bases and presence in the country.
Panelo, meanwhile, explained that President Duterte can scrap the VFA even without the approval of the Senate.
“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said in an interview in Bacolod City on Friday.
“Can you imagine they have the gall to tell us what to do with our citizens. Eh, sobra na ‘yan kaya galit si Presidente,” he added.
“I think the US should be concerned about this decision of the President because its strongest ally in the region reacting against it,” he further said./PN