THE Embassy of the United States in Manila on Thursday, November 12, welcomed the Philippines’ decision to suspend anew the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington.
“We welcome the Government of the Philippines’ November 11 decision to suspend termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for another six months,” it said in a statement.
“The U.S.-Philippines alliance remains vital to our robust, deep-rooted bilateral relationship. The United States will continue to partner closely with the Philippines to strengthen our mutual security ties,” the embassy added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the suspension of the VFA.
“My President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has instructed me to convey with the appropriate formality his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by yet another six months, to enable us to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement on how to move forward in our mutual defense,” he said in a tweet.
“The past four years have changed the South China Sea from one of uncertainty about great powers’ intentions to one of predictability and resulting stability with regard to what can and cannot be done, what will and will not be acceptable with regard to the conduct of any protagonist in the South China Sea. Clarity and strength have never posed a risk. It is confusion and indecision that aggravate risk,” he added.
Locsin attributed the renewal of stability and security in the region to the efforts by the governments of the Philippines and the United States.
“A great deal of credit for the renewal of stability and security goes to deft diplomacy, unequivocal expressions of policy, sturdy postures of strength combined with unfailing tact, and pragmatic national security advice exhibited by both our governments in the same period,” he said.
Locsin also hailed the two countries’ friendship and alliance.
“Long Live Philippine US friendship and alliance. I hereby send the Diplomatic Note in that respect,” he said.
The abrogation of the VFA was suspended on June 2 “in light of political and other developments in the region.”
“The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction,” Locsin had said in a tweet.
In the diplomatic note attached to Locsin’s tweet, it said: “In light of the political and other developments in the region, the termination of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States Regarding the Treatment of the United States Visiting Forces Visiting the Philippines…is hereby suspended.”
The note also said that the suspension shall start on an even date and shall continue for six months – though it can be extended for another half a year.
“After which, the tolling of the initial period in Note Verbale No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 shall resume,” it added.
On February 11, the Philippines sent a notice to Washington that terminated the defense agreement.