Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III sits as the chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal, File
Pimentel: Senate to review VFA, other US defense pacts next week
( - January 29, 2020 - 1:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is set to review in a legislative hearing the benefits of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States next week, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said.

News5 reported that Pimentel said the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which Pimentel chairs, will review the VFA. The panel is expected to come up with a report, which may be submitted to the Malacañang, should the plenary approve it.

A report from ABS-CBN meanwhile said that hearing is set on Thursday next week, February 6.

The hearing will also touch on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty with the US. The Senate panel will also look into the VFA with Australia.

Pimentel also said that they will discuss how the VFA is being implemented, its timeline, problems and how these were addressed. Amendments may also be introduced, the senator reportedly said.

News5 also reported that the panel aims to submit the review before the end of February.

Executive branch conducting impact assessment review

President Rodrigo Duterte gave the United States one month to “correct” the cancellation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa or else he will terminate the VFA.

The Palace said that the threat to end the VFA was a “studied response” from the president and was not a decision made “on a whim.” The visa revocation of Dela Rosa, an ally of Duterte, was merely the “last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Duterte ordered an assessment on the impact of the potential abrogation of the agreement between the two countries.

Guevarra, however, said that a cluster of agencies under the executive department will have to meet to for the preliminary impact assessment.

Former Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario, former Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. and ex-Navy officer Antonio Trillanes IV all cautioned against the abrogation of the VFA, citing the benefits that the Philippines receives from the agreement. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from News5/Greg Gregorio

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