Philippines to send VFA termination notice to US; Duterte to talk to Trump

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2020 08:58 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2020 02:04 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte has issued orders to send to the United States a notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Friday.

"He said, and I quote him, 'I will instruct the Executive Secretary (Salvador Medialdea) to tell the DFA Secretary (Teodoro Locsin Jr) to send notice of termination to the US government,'" Panelo said.

The President is also set to speak by phone with US President Donalt Trump, Panelo said.

But according to Panelo, it isn't clear yet what the agenda is for that conversation and who brought it up.

Locsin earlier said he had already prepared the notice and send it on Duterte's direct orders.

The Palace previously said that Manila had begun the process of terminating the agreement late last month.

Under the agreement, the treaty will be deemed terminated 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other a notice in writing.

The President's instruction came just a day after a Senate hearing on the VFA and its benefits to the country, with Locsin citing billions-worth in military and humanitarian aid the Philippines has received from its long-standing ally.

The VFA governs rules on the conduct of visiting US forces in the Philippines. Duterte ordered its termination after the US canceled the visa of his ally Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa.

The US did not cite the reason for the former police chief's visa cancellation, but it happened after American senators passed a resolution that sought to impose some sanctions against Philippine officials responsible for the detention of Duterte's staunch critic, Sen. Leila De Lima.

The VFA is one of three defense pacts the Philippines has with the US. The others are the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which binds both sides to come to each other's aid in the event of an attack, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

-- With reports from Arianne Merez, Joyce Balancio and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News