MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) has expressed support for the government’s decision to suspend the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which was officially communicated by the Department of Foreign Affairs to the United States Embassy in Manila on June 1.
“The Philippine defense establishment is ready to continue working closely with our US counterparts to find solutions to common concerns, such as the ongoing pandemic that has greatly affected both our countries,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement sent to reporters Wednesday.
Lorenzana said the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines would consult with the Office of the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces on issues that need to be addressed.
“In times of crises and global uncertainty, it is our belief that nations are only made stronger if we work together and focus our efforts on tackling the various challenges that confront us all,” he added.
The termination of the VFA with the US was suspended upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday night.
Locsin posted on Twitter a diplomatic note dated June 1 to the US Embassy in Manila and said Washington has received it “well at that.”
The VFA, established in 1999, provides a framework for a defense forces cooperation that allows joint exercises between the Philippines and the US.
Duterte initially threatened to terminate the accord after Washington revoked the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the former Philippine National Police chief who implemented the administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
The campaign against illegal narcotics had been criticized by the US, with some American lawmakers introducing a Senate resolution castigating the Duterte administration for the deaths related to the measure.
On February 11, the Philippine government officially sent the notice of VFA termination to the US Embassy in Manila. (PNA)