PH expects more US COVID-19 aid after VFA abrogation suspension

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday the Philippines could expect more COVID-19 aid from the United States after the government suspended the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US.

“In the next six months — this is only my guess — the assistance of the US will increase to fight the pandemic. They already give us some help or assistance recently, especially in providing equipment in our quarantine facilities,” Lorenzana told CNN.

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The DFA chief was about the $5.9-million or P298-million the US has given to the Philippines on May 7 to contain that spread of COVID-19. The US provided a total of P768 million or $15.2 million coronavirus assistance to the country. 

Lorenzana welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to postpone the termination of VFA, saying the Philippine military would continue working with the US in creating solutions to their shared concerns, including health crisis. 

The Defense Chief said American forces have been patrolling with the West Philippine Sea even if the VFA abrogation is not suspended.

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“For the South China Sea, even without the suspension of the abrogation of the VFA, the US continues to patrol the South China Sea because according to them that’s international waters and they can go there anytime they want,” Lorenzana said.

“Our strategy in the South China Sea is independent of what the US is doing. We are dealing with the Chinese in our own way to manage the situation in the South China Sea,” he added.

Also read: AFP chief says VFA abrogation makes Philippines ‘self-reliant’

DFA Secretary announced Tuesday the Philippines suspended the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) termination with the United States following the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The suspension, however, is only six months from June 1, and it would be “extendible by the Philippines for another six months.”

“The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines presents avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the United States of America the assurance of its highest consideration,” the DFA Manila further said in a communication memo.

The United States meanwhile welcomed the Philippine government’s decision on suspending the VFA termination and said it looks forward to the continued military ties between the two countries. 

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