MANILA, Nov 6 (Mabuhay) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it would follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s final guidance on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“We will abide fully by the final guidance of the President as regards the VFA.
From the perspective of AFP, the Visiting Forces Agreement translates to joint and interoperability training opportunities to benefit both the Philippines and the United States of America,” AFP spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
“This is in furtherance of the existing Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 that still has force and effect,” Arevalo added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is not privy to Duterte’s instructions regarding the VFA.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has said Duterte may again suspend the abrogation of the VFA.
In June, the Philippine government suspended for six months the abrogation of the VFA, a decision that was reportedly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and developments in the South China Sea.
Duterte sought the termination of the VFA in February after the US canceled the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, his close ally.
The VFA took effect in 1999 after being ratified by the Philippine Senate, effectively allowing American soldiers to train and advise their Filipino counterparts in disaster response and its fight against terrorists.
Under the agreement, US forces are not allowed to take part in combat operations. (MNS)