PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZJOHN ROSALES

THE United States Embassy in the Philippines on Tuesday welcomed President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s postponement on the termination of a military agreement between the two countries by another six months.  

“Our alliance continues to contribute not only to the security of our two nations, but also strengthens the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-Pacific,” it said in a statement.  

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. in a video message late Monday said Mr. Duterte decided to extend his order to suspend the termination of the  

visiting forces agreement (VFA), which involves the deployment of troops for joint drills.  

Mr. Duterte in February last year said he would terminate the VFA after the US Embassy cancelled the visa of his ally, Senator Ronald M. de la Rosa. 

He suspended the abrogation for six months in June, citing heightened tensions in the region and that it was a distraction to the countries’ anti-coronavirus efforts. It was suspended anew for another six months in December.  

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, in a briefing on June 4, said the two nations spent a lot of time to discuss how to improve the pact. He also said that the agreement is “kind of a bigger picture of our relationship, especially in our Mutual Defense Treaty.”  

US Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires John Law said in the same briefing that the VFA “has been a fundamental part of helping make the Mutual Defense Treaty successful.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas