Only President Rodrigo R. Duterte can decide on the extension or the termination of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday.
“We did not really change the VFA, we merely added some documents on how to implement the provisions. But I believe, I am confident that this (VFA) will be signed under President Duterte,” Lorenzana said partly in Filipino during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) virtual presser with the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster, when asked about the status of the pact.
Lorenzana, however, said since the suspension of the pact’s abrogation is effective until December this year, he added that they have to wait on the President’s decision regarding the matter.
He added that the VFA along with the Mutual Defense Treaty and the West Philippine Sea will be part of the agenda during his meeting with American counterpart Lloyd Austin, who is expected to visit the country by next week.
The VFA lays out the terms and conditions on the entry and visit of US military troops for military exercises and other approved activities to the Philippines.
Last June, Duterte extended the suspension of the abrogation of the VFA for another six months.
This is the third time that Duterte extended the suspension, the first of which was in June last year and the second in November 2020.