MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will not accommodate efforts by the United States to “salvage” the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as the Philippines has sought to formally terminate the deal on Tuesday, Malacañang said.
“The President will not entertain any initiative coming from the US government to salvage the VFA, neither will he accept any official invitation to visit the United States,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The Philippine government on Tuesday formally notified the US of its intent to pull out of the military pact, which governs the conduct of American soldiers in the Philippines, through a notice signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
The notice was received on the same day by US Deputy Chief of Mission John Law.
Panelo explained that the move is anchored on President Duterte’s “independent foreign policy.”
Duterte’s decision came even as lawmakers called first for a review of the agreement, which is among the Philippines' defense pacts with the US.
Washington, through its embassy in Manila, said the move is a “serious step with significant implications for the US-Philippines alliance.”
“We will carefully consider how best to move forward to advance our shared interests," the embassy said.
Despite the Philippine action, the US said it is still committed to the friendship between the two sides.
"Our two countries enjoy a warm relationship, deeply rooted in history. We remain committed to the friendship between our two peoples," it said.
The termination of the pact will take effect 180 days after the US government receives the notice.
The VFA is anchored on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington, which obligates both sides to come to each other's aid in case of an attack.