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DND rejects calls to scrap VFA

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2014 - 2:18pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Defense Department is not in favor of calls to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), believing such move could affect the Philippines’ efforts to achieve a credible defense posture.

“Let us not forget that the VFA is a component of our overall defense strategy and its abrogation now will have an adverse effect on the minimum credible defense posture that we are working hard to achieve,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a text message on Tuesday.

“It is a work in progress and we should not hastily throw it into the trash bin before it has truly proven its worth,” he added.

Earlier, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Akbayan pary-list Rep. Walden Bello filed a joint resolution seeking to abrogate the VFA, which allows American troops to conduct trainings in the country.

The lawmakers said the agreement, which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, is being used to shield United States (US) servicemen who have committed criminal acts from Philippine laws.

Bello believes the agreement “allows the US military to act in wanton disregard for Philippine sovereignty” and “violates the human rights and dignity of the Filipino people."

Activists renewed calls to abrogate the 15-year old agreement amid the outcry over the killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude allegedly by US Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN JEFFREY JOSEPH PEMBERTON MARINE PFC MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO AND AKBAYAN PHILIPPINE SENATE UNITED STATES VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT WALDEN BELLO
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