'Aggression took place': Suspension of VFA abrogation timely, correct - analyst


Posted at Jun 04 2020 09:32 AM

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MANILA - The Philippines' suspension of its treaty abrogation with the US is "timely" and the "correct decision," a maritime expert said Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte suspended for 6 months the abrogation of the Philippines' Visiting Forces Agreement with the US due to "heightened super power tensions" as the world reeled from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it’s timely. It’s the correct decision especially since we’ve seen that after the decision to terminate, aggression took place in and around South China Sea which causes much concern," said Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

"The fact that the region is now facing a pandemic, which is now absorbing their attention and resources would provide an opportunity for some untoward incident so it’s better for us that... we still have this mechanism which will enable us to fully cooperate on the ground."

In February, the same month Duterte announced the VFA termination, a Chinese ship pointed its radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in the West Philippine Sea.

The United States has warned China not to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to exert itself in the South China Sea after Vietnam said Beijing sank one of its fishing boats.