Senate panel begins inquiry into VFA, other defense pacts
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate foreign relations committee on Thursday began its inquiry into the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and other military pacts between the Philippines and the United States.
Aside from the VFA, the panel, led by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, will also review the Enhanced Defense Corporation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
The review of the said defense agreements came after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abrogate the VFA if the U.S. government does not rectify the visa cancellation of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
The 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 U.S.
EDCA, which was signed in 2014, serves as a supplement to the VFA.
Meanwhile, under the MDT, each party “would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes” should there be an armed attack in the Pacific area.
Pimentel earlier noted that while concurrence of the Senate is needed before the Philippines could enter into any treaty of international agreement, the power to terminate such belongs to the President.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, however, has filed a resolution calling on the Senate to assert its role in treaty termination or withdrawal amid the government’s plan to abrogate the VFA.
Drilon also filed a resolution with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson asking the President to reconsider his plan to terminate the said military pact.
Present at the hearing were Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Undersecretary Eduardo Malaya, and Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, among other foreign affairs officials.
Top military officials, led by National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, were also present at the hearing.
Edited by MUF
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