Sun. Dec 6th, 2020

The Philippine government has extended the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for another six months, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced on Wednesday.

Locsin said this would allow the Philippines and the United States “to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement on how to move forward in our mutual defense.”

With further discussions expected on the fate of the VFA, Locsin underscored Manila’s hope for continued partnership between the two states.

“Long Live Philippine US friendship and alliance. I hereby send the Diplomatic Note in that respect,” he said.

In a letter informing White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Locsin noted that the South China Sea has changed in the past four years “from one of uncertainty about great powers’ intentions to one of predictability and resulting stability with regard to what can and cannot be done.”

“Clarity and strength have never posed a risk. It is confusion and indecision that aggravate risk,” he said.

He added that the renewal of stability and security in the region can be attributed to the “deft diplomacy, unequivocal expression of policy, sturdy postures of strength combined with unfailing tact, and pragmatic national security advice” displayed by both Washington DC and Manila.

The VFA is a framework for defense forces cooperation that allows joint exercises between the Philippines and the US.Manila officially sent the notice to terminate it last February 11, which was then suspended in June for six months. SOVEREIGNPH

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