PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte said he is determined to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States despite American President Donald Trump himself wanting to keep the accord.
In a speech Monday evening, Mr. Duterte said he will not reciprocate the efforts of Mr. Trump, along with “others” whom he did not specify, to maintain the bilateral military cooperation.
“Si Trump and others are trying to save the Visiting Forces Agreement, pero sabi ko ayaw ko (but I said no, I don’t want to),” he said.
Last Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said Mr. Duterte will be talking to Mr. Trump about the VFA, but there is so far no confirmation whether the discussion already took place.
In late January, Mr. Duterte announced that he wanted to cancel the VFA in the wake of the cancellation of the US visa of Senator Ronald M. Dela Rosa, his political ally and former police chief.
He first gave the US two months to address the issue, but said in later statements that he has already set his mind to end the agreement.
The President said the visa cancellation was just one of the reasons why he wanted to lessen ties with the US.
He has also announced that he will be skipping the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Las Vegas in March and directed his Cabinet officials to refrain from travelling to the US.
Meanwhile, the Senate adopted on Monday evening the resolution asking Mr. Duterte to reconsider the VFA termination plan while the chamber is undertaking its thorough review of the agreement.
Mr. Dela Rosa abstained from the voting for the resolution’s adoption. — Gillian M. Cortez and Charmaine A. Tadalan