EDITORIAL - Let this be the end of this issue

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Let this be the end of this issue

It’s final. The Philippines will no longer be pushing for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States. At least this administration won’t be, anyway.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the decision to this effect was reached after President Rodrigo Duterte met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last Thursday.

“On behalf of the US, let me thank President Duterte for his decision to fully restore the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Defense Secretary Austin was quoted as saying in a report in Philstar.com.

While the final decision was made by President Duterte himself, it isn’t known what pushed him to this course of action.

“I don’t really know the reason behind the decision of the president,” Defense Secretary Lorenzana replied when asked by reporters.

In a previous editorial we said it can be so easy to call out President Duterte for his very inconsistent stand against the US. He has never stopped criticizing the US for its foreign policies. He also threatened again and again to terminate the VFA, only to keep deferring the move every six months.

However, in the same editorial, we also praised President Duterte’s wisdom in seeing the advantages of retaining this agreement with our oldest and strongest ally, as well as the benefits that come with this arrangement.

So it’s good that this wisdom has finally led to this final decision where this issue is concerned.

For those of us who only know the VFA as the occasion for foreign soldiers to visit our shores to play war games with their brothers-in-arms here, they may not be familiar with the fact that the same agreement gives our security forces access to material, logistical, and technical support.

In times of war, like what happened in Marawi City some years back, this material, logistical, and technical support became essential to retaking the city from terrorists.

Even without the threat of war we can still benefit from the agreement, which translates to training and programs that help our security forces improve their skills.

With this decision made final --again, at least for this administration-- let this be the end of this issue and let us move forward to other things.

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