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. Toledo IV, File photo
Magdalo party-list files resolution opposing VFA termination
( - January 29, 2020 - 4:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo party-list has filed a resolution opposing President Rodrigo Duterte’s “unilateral decision” to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

Rep. Manuel Cabochan III, a former officer of the Philippine Navy, filed Resolution No. 676 on Wednesday. He stressed that while the agreement with the US may have “contentious terms,” it “has served the Philippines in terms of ensuring the security of our nation and its people.”

“The impulsive decision to abrogate the VFA based merely on personal motivations will compromise the longstanding and cordial diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the US,” he added.

Duterte threatened to end the decades-long standing agreement with the US in a month if it will not “correct” the cancellation of the American visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a known ally of the president.

The Palace said the visa issue was merely the “last straw that broke the camel’s back,” and is not the sole reason why Duterte made the threat.

VFA helps in Philippines' efforts to quell terrorism

Cabochan, however, raised that the abrogation of VFA helps the Philippines significantly in its counter-terrorism efforts.

He raised that through the VFA, the Philippines’ Armed Forces receive crucial intelligence reports in counterterrorism efforts, “upgrade military capability” and provide latest modern warfare.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines traces its lineage to the Philippine Scouts and the Philippine Constabulary, which were formed while the country was under the US. Its weapons, and equipment as well as its tactics and doctrine are from or were influenced by US forces, with which Filipino troops continue to train with.

The US forces, through the VFA, has also been beneficial in joint operations, including disaster relief missions, Cabochan raised.

“In the view of the many security threats that the Philippines is facing at present, the VFA continues to contribute in addressing the vulnerabilities of our national security,” the lawmaker said.

Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a member of the Magdalo and a former Navy officer, echoed the same sentiments in an earlier released statement where he called Duterte’s move to terminate the VFA as “whimsical, reckless and very damaging.”

Senate review and executive branch’s impact assessment

The Senate, meanwhile, is set to review the VFA and other military pacts with the US next week, including the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

The Department of Justice, for its part, is leading an impact assessment review of the potential cutting off of the VFA.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said the impact assessment review needs thorough study, and its "timeframe depends on how soon the Cabinet cluster or the VFA commission can convene."

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. — Kristine Joy Patag

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