MANILA, June 15 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has suspended the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States for another six months, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced Monday.
The Filipino top diplomat said the chief executive relayed the decision to him and Philippine Ambassador to Washington D.C. Jose Manuel Romualdez on June 14.
“The President conveyed to us his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by another six months while he studies and both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement,” he said in a video message.
Asked about the specific concerns mentioned by the chief executive, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the agency is still “waiting for guidance from the Palace on the specific areas the President would like to look more closely into”.
The VFA lays out the terms and conditions on the entry and visit of US military troops for military exercises and other approved activities to the Philippines. In February 2020, President Duterte notified Washington that Manila is formally terminating the pact.
This is the third time that Duterte extended the suspension, the first of which was in June 2020 and the second in November 2020.
Ambassador Romualdez earlier shared that there had been an “improvement” in the VFA negotiations where specific proposals to clarify and strengthen its implementation were made.
He did not provide specific details on the proposed provisions but said it was then submitted to the Office of the President for approval. (MNS)