MANILA - The Philippine Embassy in the United States on Tuesday backed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend anew the abrogation of Manila and Washington's Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for another 6 months.
In a statement, the embassy said it continues to engage and work with the United States “for the security and progress of both countries, as well as in maintaining the rules-based order in our region.”
“The Philippines-US relations remain strong and dynamic in all aspects, especially in our cooperation in the road towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read.
The US is the Philippine's only treaty ally, and among their military agreements is the VFA, which provides rules for the rotation of thousands of US troops in and out of the country for war drills and exercises.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday announced Duterte's decision "while he studies and both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement."
Duterte supposedly consulted Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez on the matter.
This is the third suspension of the abrogation since the Philippines announced it was pulling out of the VFA in February 2020.
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The announcement also came as China continues to make incursions in Philippine waters, particularly the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the resource-rich, disputed South China Sea.
Beijing continues to disregard the ruling of a United Nations-backed arbitration court, invalidating its claims to 90 percent of the disputed waters. Duterte earlier said the country's arbitral victory belonged to a waste basket.
- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Reuters