“Whereas, there is a need to further reorganize the PCVF to ensure an effective integration of its functions with the Government’s independent foreign policy,” read the new EO, which removed the authority of the Executive Secretary as chairman of the commission.
STAR/File
EO signed reorganizing presidential VFACom
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has expanded the powers of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. by naming him chairman of the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces (PCVF) and boosted the commission’s capability by including the national security adviser as member.

In issuing Executive Order 97, Duterte reorganized PCVF by attaching it to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) while being under the oversight function of the Office of the President. Malacañang released yesterday the order dated Nov. 29.

Duterte, who has crafted an independent foreign policy that veered the Philippines towards China, decided to relinquish direct supervision over the body to the Secretary of DFA while appointing the NSA and a representative from his office as members.

“Whereas, there is a need to further reorganize the PCVF to ensure an effective integration of its functions with the Government’s independent foreign policy,” read the new EO, which removed the authority of the Executive Secretary as chairman of the commission.

The former VFACom is tasked to supervise and monitor the Visiting Forces Agreement entered by the Philippines with the US and Australia and the other related agreements that may be included by order of the President.

It was also named as the lead inter-agency mechanism that will “provide policy coordination and advice, guidance, and assessment to ensure that all SOFAs serve the national interest.” SOFA is the acronym for Status of Forces Agreement. 

The Philippines and the US Visiting Forces Agreement took effect on May 27, 1999, about eight years after the closure of the Clark Air Base in Angeles City in 1991.

The country also entered into a military agreement with Australia—dubbed as the Philippine–Australia Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA)—that was ratified by the Senate on July 24, 2012. 

Under the new EO, Duterte removed the “control and supervision” of the President, but maintains the chief executive shall maintain “oversight functions” over the commission.

Duterte retained the provision (on the old EO 175) on powers and functions of the Commission, which are: to ensure respect for Philippine laws, state policies, public morals, customs and traditions and strict compliance with the provisions of all SOFAs and the rules and regulations promulgated by the concerned departments and agencies.

The new executive order amended EO 175 that was signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014.

The PCVF is now composed of the secretaries of foreign affairs as chairman and of national defense as vice-chairman. Its members include the secretaries of justice, social welfare and development, and the interior and local government; as well as the national security adviser, VFACom executive director, and representatives of the Office of the President and the private sector (to be appointed by the President).

The NSA was not previously included as member of the commission.

On the post of executive director, the EO mandates that “the President, upon the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense shall appoint or designate an executive director.”

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON VISITING FORCES TEODORO LOCSIN JR.
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