PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Harry Roque yesterday said the Philippine government is likely to request another six-month delay in the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement which allows joint exercises between the military forces of Washington and Manila.
Second guessing President Duterte, Roque said Malacañang can extend the suspension of the termination process for another six months since there is no rush to end the agreement.
He added that the President, when he informed the US that he was suspending the termination for six months, indicated that the Philippine government has the option to further extend the suspension for another six months.
“That (suspension) has an option of being further extended by another six months. So, my thinking is, perhaps the President will invoke the second six-month time to finally abrogate the VFA,” Roque said.
The Duterte administration in February this year arbitrarily announced it was abrogating the international treaty allegedly due to inequities in its treaty provisions and due to the alleged disrespect shown by US lawmakers against the Philippines’ sovereignty and judicial system.
The President at the time was referring to the cancellation of the US visa of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who was Duterte’s chief of police at the height of allegations of extrajudicial killings and police brutality related to the government’s violent and bloody war against drugs.
The President had likewise expressed disdain over the criticisms of several US lawmakers over his anti-illegal drug campaign.
The termination of the VFA should have taken effect last August, but the Duterte government last June gave notice to Washington that it was suspending the process for six months, with the option to extend it for another six months, due to “political and other developments in the region.”
The VFA is a military pact signed between the Philippines and the United States governments in 1998. It allowed American troops who are participating in joint military exercises to visit Manila without a passport and a visa.