BBM eyes VFA ‘changes’ to keep with changing times

BBM eyes VFA ‘changes’ to keep with changing times

Photo illustration courtesy of PhilStar

By Junex Doronio
May 24, 2022

MANILA — THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING, as Bob Dylan’s popular folk song goes, and this, apparently motivated incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. when he said there is a need to “redefine” the terms under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

This surfaced after three ambassadors and the United States’ Charge de Affaires on Monday paid a courtesy visit to Marcos Jr. who is expected to formally take his oath as the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines at high noon on June 30 this year as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.

“Pinag-usapan namin ang re-signing or the extension of the VFA and how it needs to be redefined in the near future with the changing situation around the world, especially in our region,” Marcos Jr. said in a press conference after the courtesy visit.

However, the President-elect did not give details on which portions of the VFA he hopes to change.

Maharlika TV learned that on Monday US Charges d’ Affaires Heather Variava paid a courtesy call on Marcos as well as other diplomats, including Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko, South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Inchul, and India Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran.

It can be recalled that there were US military bases in Clark, Pampanga, and Olongapo City, Subic during the 20-year reign of BBM’s father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.

There was no problem with foreign incursion during those times.

The Los Angeles Times in its Feb. 17, 1986 issue reported that the elder Marcos asserted that Washington has failed to live up to its end of a 1983 bargain that promised $900 million in U.S. military and economic aid over a period of years.

On September 16, 1991, despite the strong pro-US bases lobby led by then-President Corazon Aquino, 12 senators voted to terminate the US-Philippines military bases agreement that effectively ended years of foreign military presence in the country.

With no more permanent foreign military bases in the country, the Senate ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on May 27, 1999.

But in 2020 President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA when he was irked that the US visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa was canceled following allegations by human rights groups that he was involved in the “bloody drug war.”

Dela Rosa was Duterte’s police chief when the latter was still mayor of Davao City.

Fast forward to the first quarter of 2021, Duterte said the US must pay if it wants to keep its VFA with the Philippines.

After five months, Duterte changed his mind and fully restored the VFA between the Philippines and the United States. (ai/mtvn)

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