MANILA— The United States Embassy in Manila on Friday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to recall his order to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), saying the pact is supposedly good for the region's stability and security.
"We strongly believe that the VFA, and the broader alliance that the VFA enables, strengthens not only the security of our two nations, but also the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-Pacific, the embassy said in a statement following the development.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said he was unsure why Duterte had reversed himself but made the decision after meeting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila on Thursday.
Before this, the President had extended suspending the VFA's abrogation thrice.
But Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte's decision was based upon "upholding Philippines' strategic core interests."
"The clear definition of PH-US alliance as one between sovereign equals, and clarity of US position on its obligations and commitments under Mutual Defense Treaty," Roque said, noting that the Philippines would also seek partnerships with other countries.
The VFA provides the legal framework under which US troops can operate on a rotational basis in the Philippines.
The US Embassy added that among the nations in the Indo-Pacific, the Philippines has received a large "security assistance" from their government, reaching a total of P48.6 billion since it began in 2015.
Experts say without the VFA, other bilateral defense agreements, including the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), cannot be implemented.
The US is the Philippines' long-standing defense ally.
- With reports from Reuters
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