Malacañang said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to retract the keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) abrogation to uphold the country’s interests above all.
“The President’s decision to recall the abrogation of VFA is based on upholding the Philippines’ strategic core interests, the clear definition of Philippines-United States alliance as one between sovereign equals, and clarity of US position on its obligations and commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty,” Roque said.
However, Roque noted that the Philippines is not dependent on one country alone.
“The Philippines will continue to engage other countries for partnerships that work, based on our core national interests,” Roque added.
“The President decided to recall or retract the termination letter for the VFA,” Lorenzana said in a press conference with visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.
The Defense chief made the announcement after Duterte met with Austin in Malacanang.
Retraction of VFA abrogation for PH’s interest – Palace
Palace said Duterte and Austin agreed that the ties between the Philippines and the US could be improved through “enhanced communication and greater cooperation, particularly in areas of pandemic response, combating transnational crimes, including drug war, maritime domain awareness, rule of law and trade and investments.”
The Philippines–United States Visiting Forces Agreement, sometimes the PH–US Visiting Forces Agreement, is a bilateral visiting forces agreement between the Philippines and the United States consisting of two separate documents.
A visiting forces agreement is a version of a status of forces agreement that only applies to troops temporarily in a country. The agreements came into force on May 27, 1999, upon ratification by the Senate of the Philippines. The United States government regards these documents to be executive agreements not requiring approval by the United States Senate.
The Philippine government formally sought the VFA abrogation on February 11, 2020.
In December 2020, Duterte threatened to continue the VFA termination if the US would not give the Philippines access to COVID-19 vaccines.