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Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) prepare to man the rails prior to arriving to Subic Bay in preparation of Exercise Balikatan. Exercise Balikatan, in its 35th iteration, is an annual U.S., Philippine military training exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, and other combined military operations. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin F. Davella III)

VFA abrogation for further review

The RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) will be given more time for review of its abrogation in case Malacanang further suspends its total termination, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III. 

The Executive Department is currently reviewing the pros and cons of the defense aspect of the agreement, added Sotto. 

Earlier, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is inclined to extend for another six-month the suspension of the VFA’s revocation. 

Sotto said amending provisions of the VFA would be better than replacing the whole agreement. “We can simply come to some agreements on amendments. Example: a provision on automatic US defense posture on any aggression against the Philippines,” he said.

 Sotto believes any amendments on the VFA may not need concurrence of the Senate. But for Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chair Aquilino Pimentel III, amendments should be agreed upon by both the US and the Philippine governments. 

Despite the possibility of Malacañang extending the suspension of VFA abrogation, Pimentel insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte should make a final decision in its revocation. 

“There will come a time when we should finally make up our mind. Do we want the US VFA or not?” he said. “We should make our decision based on our own national interest and not based on the result of an election in a foreign land. That time should come sooner rather than later.” 

Malacañang said the Philippines can work with any United States president inasmuch as the country shares long-standing cordial relations with America. 

Roque earlier said there will be no major changes in the bilateral relations between Manila and Washington whatever the outcome of America’s presidential elections. 

Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will await President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision and guidance with regards to VFA. 

“The Visiting Forces Agreement translates to joint and interoperability training opportunities to benefit both the Philippines and the United States of America,”  Gen. Arevalo said. 

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