MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte would not be swayed by anyone to overturn his decision to revoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters that Duterte’s position remains “unchanged,” despite supposed efforts by Washington to save VFA.
“Hindi. Unchanged na ang position niya (No, his position is unchanged),” Panelo said, when quizzed if Duterte would change his mind about his move to abrogate VFA.
On Tuesday, Duterte said the US is trying to make amends with his administration following the termination of the military pact.
Duterte’s pronouncement came after he met with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
Panelo said it was “natural” for the US to seek a dialogue with Philippines because the revocation of VFA puts Washington at disadvantage.
“Natural lang yun kasi ‘di ba (It was natural because) I’ve been saying all along that it’s at their disadvantage that we abrogated it. So the initiatives are also coming from them,” he said.
The VFA, signed between Manila and Washington in February 1998, allows American soldiers to visit the Philippines without passport and visa to pave the way for their participation in joint military drills.
The Philippines, however, sent a formal notice of termination of VFA to the US on February 11.
The military pact is deemed revoked 180 days after the receipt of the termination notice.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier bared that there are ongoing talks between Manila and Washington to craft a new deal that is “something similar” to VFA.
Panelo, however, said the plan has “no blessing” from Duterte. (PNA)