VFA no longer suspended

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - June 4, 2020 - 12:00am

If there was a huge story last February, it was that President Rodrigo Duterte formally informed the United States on February 11 that it was ending the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US that would have been effective 180 days from receipt of the notice. With the global pandemic that came from China, the Philippines has not openly chastised the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) on what it told the World Health Organization (WHO) last January 17 that there was no human-to-human contact with the coronavirus, only to recant this statement a few weeks later.

Today, 110 nations are seeking to get into the bottom of where the coronavirus has started. People call it the Wuhan virus because it allegedly originated in Wuhan, China. When I wrote about this virus coming from Red China, one of my readers attacked me for being a “racist”. This is the trouble with many people today who think we are “racist” because we identify a virus from Red China. If you recall, the Spanish flu came from Spain while the Ebola virus came from a river in Africa.

Anyway, with the Communist Chinese abrogating its deal with Hong Kong that would have expired in 27 years, you can see that China no longer accepts a “one China, two systems” country. With Red China claiming part of the Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea (call it South China Sea), then it really is high time for the Philippines to prepare for anything that might explode not only because of the pandemic but the bully attitude of Red China even in the days of this global pandemic.

Of course we understood that President Duterte’s decision to scrap the VFA came amid the administration's shift to strengthening ties with non-traditional partners like China and Russia and tension over concerns that the US raised over the human rights situation in the Philippines, which the government said was interference with domestic issues. Indeed, it has been proven time and time again that many Philippine presidents were always pro-America. But not President Duterte as he has a different way of thinking about our alliances.

However, there is a big breaking news from the Facebook page of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that the Philippines has suspended the termination of the VFA with the US "in light of political and other developments" in the region. According to a diplomatic note that Locsin posted on his Twitter account, "the suspension shall start on even date and shall continue for six months" that the Philippines can extend for another six months. Wow! This was truly unexpected and to think this was upon the order of no less than President Duterte.

This report was confirmed by the US Embassy in Manila that on June 1, it had received the notification from the Philippine government to suspend termination of the VFA. The US statement read: "The United States welcomes the Philippine government's decision. Our long-standing alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines." The US ambassador also and does not require any more comments. The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction."

Just a reminder: the VFA was suspended by the President because some American senators denied Sen. Ronald Bato a US visa. If you ask me, the suspension of VFA based on this reason was totally uncalled for and opened the Philippines to foreign political problems. Just imagine if our Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) would have also been suspended.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been watching reports from YouTube, you will notice that the US Seventh Fleet has been sailing into international waters between Taiwan and the mainland China very regularly because of this bully attitude of Beijing. I’m not saying that we could eventually have a war with China. God Forbid, this would happen to us, but we have to prepare ourselves for the future

How times have changed since World War II 75 years ago. When the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Luzon, there were no American warships to stop the invading fleet in Lingayen Gulf. Today, the US Seventh Fleet has sent two nuclear carriers with their battle group to patrol the South China Sea. B-1 and B-2 high tech bombers have also been patrolling the seas around the Philippines, giving us confidence that America would no longer fail the Philippines in times of conflict.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com . His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com .

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