MANILA, Philippines — It’s time to “stop whining” and “pay our own way to our own sovereign defense.”
So said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. as he urged Philippine officials to end all brickbats related to the Philippines’ abrogation of the decades old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
Manila’s top diplomat said on his Twitter account it was now time to move on after Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippines should not keep on relying on the Western power in terms of strengthening the country’s defense.
“Let’s stop whining. We look weak if not fairy-like to potential aggressors in Southeast Asia,” Locsin said on Twitter. “Our boys have fought our wars with not much in their hands; let our officials honour them by talking tough on their behalf against potential aggressors not former allies.”
It is a must that the Philippines should stand on its own feet when it comes to defending its sovereignty the foreign affairs chief said.
“President (Duterte) is right. No more VFA’s even with other countries. We stand by our own guns by buying our own war defense budget commensurate to the threats to our sovereignty,” Locsin said.
“Anyone suggests alternative VFAs with potential aggressors gets slapped by me. US will never be a threat,” he added.
It was Locsin who had earlier told a Senate foreign relations inquiry that the abrogation of the military pact would “negatively impact” the overall relations of the Philippines and US adding that there are “risks of the termination of the accord to the country’s defense, security and counter-terrorism efforts.”
During last week’s hearing, Locsin has yet to send the VFA termination notice to the US and he would only do so with the “direct personal order of the President and no one else.”
And President Duterte’s “personal order came” and so last Feb. 11, Locsin signed and sent to the US Embassy in Manila the notice to terminate the VFA which was ratified by the Senate in 1999 governing the US troops’ conduct of military exercises in the Philippines.
As it was stipulated in the agreement, the US government now has 180 days or six months from the day of receipt to renegotiate or not the Philippines’ decision to scrap the said defense pact.
Scrapping of the two-decade-old VFA by President Rodrigo Duterte came into motion following the visa cancelation of prominent ally in his war on drugs and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa but Panelo insisted this was but one of many reasons for PH to cancel the VFA.
Foremost of which, is the alleged “direct insult that the US Senate” did by ordering the release of incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima on drug charges and dropping of charges on Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. (Ismael Amigo/sovereignph.com)