MANILA, Philippines — The United States on Tuesday welcomed the move of the Philippines to suspend the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), adding that it looks forward to the two nations’ continued security and defense cooperation.
“On June 1, the Government of the Philippines notified the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines of its decision to suspend termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The United States welcomes the Philippine government’s decision. Our long-standing alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines,” it added.
In a letter, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informed the embassy that the Philippine government is suspending, for at least six months, the abrogation of the VFA.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. made the diplomatic note public over Twitter where he said that the suspension of the scrapping of the military accord was “upon the President’s instruction.”
“(I)n light of political and other developments in the region, the termination of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippine and the Government of the United States of America Regarding the Treatment of United United States Forces Visiting the Philippines contained in Note No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 is hereby suspended,” the letter attached to Locsin’s tweet read.
Locsin sent the formal notice of termination to the US Embassy on February 11, from which began the 180-day countdown to the official end of the VFA.
The VFA was ratified in 1999, eight years after the Philippines closed all US military bases in 1991, to once more allow large-scale US military presence in the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA after the US visa of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, got canceled.