Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said he respects whatever decision President Rodrigo Duterte will make in regard to the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States of America.
Parallel to this, the new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said that the military respects the wisdom of President Duterte regarding the VFA.
As the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy, Senator Go said that Duterte has the prerogative to make such decision for the Philippines which, he stressed, is a “sovereign and an independent country”.
“President Duterte will not let Filipinos be taken advantage of. Hindi kami papayag na ma-agrabyado po ang Pilipino sa anumang kasunduan.” Kung ano po yung desisyon ng ating Pangulo, yan po ang tama na kompensasyon para sa Pilipino,” explained Go.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier demanded compensation from the US government if it wanted to keep the VFA, a 1998 bilateral agreement which allows US troops to conduct joint military exercises with Filipino troops and humanitarian missions in the country.
Duterte ordered last year the abrogation of the agreement, but suspended it due to the pandemic and “heightened superpower tensions.”
Meanwhile, Sobejana said in a separate interview, “I am a soldier, a good follower. The President is the commander-in-chief and I respect his wisdom,”
Sobejana added that the Philippine military should be able to stand alone and not become dependent on other countries.
“As an organization, as the AFP, we should be able to stand alone. If we are dependent on other countries, we cannot be on top of the situation always,” he said.
The Senator said the termination of the VFA “is a chance for us to write a new and better chapter in Philippines–United States relations. We should now be able to renew our friendship, reaffirm our ties and resume cooperation as true co-equals.”
Go said that he however understands and respects the opposing views of his colleagues with regard to the position of the President to terminate the VFA.
“We are a separate branch of government and it is the right of each senator to express their views if we are a working democracy,” he said.