In this May 9, 2018 photo, American and Filipino troops participate in an amphibious landing exercise simulating a beach assault during the annual Balikatan exercises in San Antonio, Zambales.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV, File photo
Justice department studying potential effects of scrapping VFA
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2020 - 2:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Justice department is conducting a “preliminary impact assessment” of the possible termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

The Palace, as well as Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said last week that the process to terminate the agreement is already underway.

Guevarra said Saturday that the department will submit a memorandum that will discuss the “procedure for termination” of the VFA. This was after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the VFA if the US will not “correct” the cancellation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa's visa.

Review to include impact of termination on security, foreign relations

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said Monday that Duterte ordered him to expand the study to review how a possible termination of the VFA’s impact on security, environment and foreign relations.

Asked if the review would also include the impact on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the Justice chief replied in Filipino: "Looks like it."

The EDCA was signed in 2014. Under this agreement, the Philippines has allowed the US to use five military bases in the country where their troops and supplies can be stationed.

The MDT meanwhile, signed 1951, allows Manila and Washington to jointly develop their security capabilities to counter external armed aggression.

Cabinet cluster review needed

Guevarra however stressed that the preliminary impact assessment "needs thorough review."

“The timeframe depends on how soon the Cabinet cluster or the VFA commission can convene,” the Justice Secretary added.

The Cabinet cluster includes the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Office of the Executive Secretary.

Guevarra also said that, in his understanding, the president has only “threatened” to terminate the agreement but has not issued orders to do so. .

"That’s why his office has requested us to study the potential impact of such termination," he explained.

Locsin said last Friday that he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has started the process of terminating the VFA with the US.

“[Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana] & I—as Vice and Chair of the USVA—are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side,” Locsin tweeted last week.

Locsin and Lorenzana are chair and vice chair of the PCVF that is tasked to supervise and monitor the VFA entered by the Philippines with the US.

MENARDO GUEVARRA PH-UNITED STATES RELATIONS UNITED STATES VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
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