Visiting Forces agency reorganized

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has reorganized the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces (PCVF), naming the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs as chairman and including the national security adviser and a representative of the President as members of the body.

    The secretary of Department of National Defense remains as vice chairman.

    The changes are contained on Executive Order No. 97 that the President signed on November 29. The new order amended Executive Order 175 of 2014, which created the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PCVFA) under the Office of the President.

    The latest executive order renamed the PCVFA to PCVF and transferred the body to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    It also removed the Executive Secretary as chairman of the PCVF, but gave the Office of the President oversight functions on the body.

    Duterte also justified naming the foreign affairs secretary as chair of the PCVF , saying the DFA “is mandated to serve as the channel for matters involving foreign relations, and to carry out legal documentation functions as provided by law and regulations.”

    The members still include secretaries of justice, social welfare, and interior government departments; the PCVF executive director, and a representative from the private sector.
    Under the new EO, the President, upon the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense, shall appoint or designate an executive director for the PCVF.

    The executive director shall be a senior government official, with rank of at least assistant secretary, who shall have direct operational and supervisory authority over all the personnel of the commission and from the concerned agencies, who may be detailed to the commission to provide technical and administrative support. He shall also report directly to the chairman of the commission.

    The PCVF was created under the Office of the President to monitor compliance with provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement and to be the lead inter-agency mechanism that will provide policy coordination and advice, guidance, and assessment to ensure that all status of forces agreements serve the national interest.

    The President said the reorganization aims to ensure an “effective integration of its functions with the government’s independent foreign policy.”