Biazon: VFA termination a ‘cause of concern’
MANILA, Philippines — For Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon, the imminent scrapping of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States is a “cause of concern.”
Biazon, vice-chairman the House committee on national defense and security, said Thursday that should the government decide to push through with terminating VFA, the country should prepare for its possible repercussions.
“I see the advantage of having the VFA so syempre (of course) it’s a cause of concern. I’m concerned about the scrapping of the VFA but I would give it to the President that it is his foreign policy direction,” Biazon said in a media forum in Quezon City.
“And right now if that is the policy direction, then we prepare for the consequences of that decision,” he added.
According to the legislator, VFA provides several benefits for the Philippines such as strengthening the country’s defense and security through training and equipment acquisition as well as the development of defense strategies in the interest of both the Philippines and the US.
Further, Biazon said the presence of American troops in the country also helps in the country’s counter-terrorism measures.
“Kung ito ay mawawala ang logical consequence, siyempre mababawasan ang benefit natin ngayon. But I hope na yung advice na binagay sa pangulo ay sapat para gumawa siya ng desisyon na ‘yun,” the lawmaker said.
(If this will be terminated, the logical consequence is we will lose our benefit from it. But I hope that the advice that was given to the President is enough for him to make that kind of decision.)
If the termination of the agreement proceeds, Biazon said the government should plan how to address the gaps that would be left behind as a result of such a foreign policy.
This includes what the government would do if the American government decides to also terminate the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
Under MDT, the Philippines and the US would assist each other when either of them is attacked by a foreign force.
This includes armed attack “on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”
“Sinasabi ko lang to as a worst-case scenario na dapat pinaghahandaan din natin,” Biazon said.
(I am saying this as a worst-case scenario that we should be preparing for.)
“Ang sinasabi ko dito in the long term (What I am saying is in the long term), we must also prepare on how to come up with our own strategy and capability to defend ourselves in the absence of all these alliance or in the absence of these treaties and agreements on defense and security,” he added.
On Wednesday night, the President said he was not joking with his threat to terminate the agreement and even barred members of the Cabinet from traveling to the US.
VFA, which took effect in 1999, covers the conduct of visiting American soldiers in the Philippines and serves as a foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US.
Edited by KGA
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