MANILA – The termination of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US) remains suspended and is not lifted, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is not giving any fresh directive about the fate of VFA which was revoked by the Philippines.
“Hindi pa po nagbabago ‘yung huling binitawang salita ni Presidente na ipagpapaliban po ng six months yung pagte-terminate sa VFA (The President’s recent directive about the VFA termination for six months remains the same),” Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
Roque made the clarification a day after Senator Ronald dela Rosa, an administration ally, announced that the US embassy allowed him to reapply for a visa following Duterte’s phone call with US President Donald Trump in April.
Roque, nevertheless, said the Palace was elated by the US’s latest decision to allow Dela Rosa to process his visa.
“So nagagalak po kami na nalinawan ang mga Amerikano na hindi dapat ganiyan ang pag-trato sa mga halal ng taumbayan ng mga Pilipinong opisyal (We are happy that Americans now realize that they should not treat elected Philippine officials that way),” Roque said.
Duterte scrapped the VFA following the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s US visa, as well as the criticism of some US senators against his drug war.
The VFA, a military pact signed between the Philippines and the US in 1998, allows American troops who are participating in joint military deals to visit Manila sans passport and visa.
The VFA was supposed to be abrogated 180 days after the Philippines sent a formal notice of termination to the US on February 11.
However, Manila notified Washington in June about Duterte’s decision to suspend the revocation of the VFA.
The abrogation of the military deal between the two countries was suspended “in light of political and other developments in the region.”
The suspension of VFA’s termination is effective for six months but can be extended by the Philippines for another six months, according to the diplomatic note dated June 1 and addressed to the US.
Roque said nothing has changed when it comes to Duterte’s stance on VFA.
“Iyan pa rin po ang posisyon (The position remains the same),” he said. (PNA)