MANILA - Sen. Ronald dela Rosa on Thursday said there is a "possibility" for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States to be "fully reinstated" over "changing" dynamics in the West Philippine Sea.
"Hindi remote [possibility]. Baka maibalik 'yan nang buong-buo... 'Pag gumanda ang relasyon natin, baka tuloy-tuloy na 'yan. Babalik yan," Dela Rosa told reporters in an online press conference.
(It's not just a remote possibility. It can be fully reinstated... If our relationship improves, it will go on. It will be reinstated.)
"Baka may mga pagbabago lalo na sa sitwasyon natin sa West Philippine Sea, relationship with China. Baka may factors diyan na kino-consider," he said, when asked why he thought Duterte would be willing to renew the defense deal between Manila and Washington.
(Maybe there were changes in the situation in the West Philippine Sea, relationship with China. Maybe factors like that were being considered.)
Dela Rosa was referring to China's continuous incursions in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, resource rich waters that China claims in near entirety.
Dela Rosa gave the comment as he dismissed talk that President Rodrigo Duterte may have reconsidered the termination of the VFA after the United States' offered to reinstate his cancelled US visa.
"Hindi naman sinabi ng Pangulo na ibalik ang VFA kung ibalik ang visa [ko]. Ang sabi niya galit siya sa pagkatanggal ng aking visa," he said.
(The President did not say that the VFA will be reinstated if they give back my visa. What he said was he did not like the fact that they cancelled my visa.)
Dela Rosa is Duterte's decades-long ally who spearheaded the government's intensified campaign against illegal drugs when he was police chief.
In February, Duterte moved to terminate the VFA - which governs the conduct of American soldiers stationed in the Philippines - after the US revoked Dela Rosa's 10-year, multiple entry visa.
Last month, Manila suspended the abrogation of the VFA, citing "political and other developments in the region."
The offer to reinstate the cancelled visa came after a phone call between Duterte and US President Donald Trump, Dela Rosa told ANC's Headstart earlier this week.
"Ang VFA ay tinerminate ng ating Pangulo because of several reasons. It was a preponderance of reasons," he said.
"[Pero] hindi naman natin totally madi-disregard ang ating historical relationship with the US," he said.