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MBC warns against VFA cancellation

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PHILSTAR/KRIZJOHN ROSALES

The Makati Business Club (MBC) has warned that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) may affect other security agreements between the Philippines and the United States of America, which the MBC calls a big contributor to the local economy.

In a statement released on Friday, the MBC noted that the US “over the decades… brought in investments, jobs, infrastructure and aid.” It also said that the alliance with the US is “critical” in “preserving peace and the rule of law in the region.”

“They have also been critical in providing training and support to our military in their fight against terrorism, insurgency, and other threats, as well as in responding to natural disasters,” the MBC said.

“We are therefore concerned about the notice of cancelation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which may affect other security agreements, and hope that this paves the way for discussions between the Philippines and the US on ways to eliminate its negative factors but preserve its positive benefits,” the MBC said.

Mr. Duterte first mentioned his intention to cancel the agreement after the US visa of his ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” M. Dela Rosa, was cancelled. He later said that other factors also contributed to his decision to scrap the VFA, among which were the inclusion in the 2020 US National Budget of a prohibition from entering the country of officials responsible for Senator Leila M. De Lima’s detention, and the passage of a US Senate resolution that will freeze the assets and deny entry into the US of those linked to the ongoing drug war in the Philippines.

The Palace called the VFA a “one sided” agreement that only benefits the US.

The MBC said that cancelling the VFA “might affect other security agreements” with the US such as the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The Foreign Affairs Secretary and some lawmakers have said that the MDT, which was signed in 1951, would be useless without the VFA. — Gillian M. Cortez





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