US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) termination between the US and the Philippines is fine with him and that it would save his country a lot of money.
The 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement gives a legal framework for the entry and stay of US military forces in the Philippines.
“If they would like to do that, that’s fine, we’ll save a lot of money,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“My views are different from others,” he added.
The Philippines has received benefits from the US through the VFA including $267.75 million (P13.58 billion) from 2016 to 2019, $200 million (P10.14 billion) for aircraft, training, equipment, and construction for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, $45 million (P2.2 billion) in foreign military financing, and more.
Trump on VFA termination: ‘that’s fine, we’ll save a lot of money’
Trump also said the US had helped the Philippines defeat Islamic State militants. He said he had “a very good” relationship with Duterte and added: “we’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier the US was not helping the Philippines to fight communists.
“Alam mo (You know), we’ve been fighting the communists for 53 years. Kung nakatulong talaga ang Amerika, p…i…naman, hanggang ngayon?” Duterte lamented. (If America really helped us…[why are we still fighting the communists] at this time?)
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Tuesday termination of VFA a “move in the wrong direction.”
The President first threatened to revoke the VFA after Senator and former PNP Chief Bato Dela Rosa’s US visa was canceled. He also then banned Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts from entering the country.
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin signed and delivered the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.