THE SENATE foreign relations committee has approved the resolution asking President Rodrigo R. Duterte to reconsider the abrogation of the Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the resolution was calendared to be sponsored in the chamber on Monday’s session. The Feb. 10 agenda showed the resolution is lined up for sponsorship.
“This afternoon, idi-discuss na namin ang (we will discuss the) VFA,” Mr. Zubiri said in a briefing ahead of the session. As of this writing, the Senate has yet to tackle the measure.
“I’m leaning towards the adoption of the resolution,” he said.
Government officials over the weekend gave contradicting statements on the President’s directive over the VFA issue.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a Senate hearing last week that the notice to terminate the agreement has been prepared, but still awaiting Mr. Duterte’s go-signal.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, for his part, said he would wait for the President’s official announcement as a Senate review would be “a waste of time” if Mr. Duterte terminates the agreement.
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano hinted on support for ending the VFA, saying the accord may have “the effect of derailing the attainment of our National Goals and Objectives.”
“Today, if we do our research and review the facts, we can see that we have been neglected by the United States. They have stood by blindly as we where abused by our neighbors and our territory snatched from us. And their former enemies — despite still differing values on democratic process and human rights — continue to get better treatment and more resources from them than their old friend, and ever reliable ally, the Philippines,” Mr. Cayetano, said in a statement on Monday. He also called for a review not only of the VFA, but also on the Philippines’ “long relationship” with the US government. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Genshen L. Espedido