Lacson hits timing and reasons for VFA scrapping
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson continued to question on Thursday the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), saying the timing and reasons for its cancellation “are way off the mark.”
For Lacson, VFA’s repeal “is not the smartest move” of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“While admittedly, the VFA is not perfect for the Philippines as far as equitability is concerned, the timing and reasons for its abrogation are way off the mark,” Lacson, former police chief, said in a statement.
“The thing is, it is not the smartest move of the President to expose ourselves naked first before looking for other options for cover,” he added.
On Duterte’s order, the Philippine government on Tuesday sent a notice to the United States terminating the VFA, which took effect in 1999. The abrogation though will only take effect after 180 days upon receipt of the notice.
The VFA’s revocation was triggered by the US’ cancellation of the visa of Duterte’s former top cop and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Unprotected vs terrorists, security threats
But General Felimon Santos Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, assured Wednesday the Philippines “will live without the VFA”.
“The Filipino people are resilient and our soldiers are no different. We will survive, no doubt. We know how to improvise and we can adapt to crises the way we did many times before,” Lacson said, in an apparent reference to Santos’ statement.
“But in the meantime, we remain exposed to terrorist threats, both domestic and foreign, not to mention the continuing security threat in the West Philippine Sea posed by China, and even the need for timely humanitarian response and assistance that the US is capable of deploying during disasters, natural or man-made,” he added.
Lacson said maintenance and repairs of military hardware, mostly air assets provided by the US under the AFP modernization program will also be affected by the VFA’s abrogation.
And while he welcomed the AFP chief’s statement that the Philippines may push for similar defense treaties with other allied countries like Japan and South Korea, the senator said the reality is that it would not happen overnight.
“It will take a series of back-and-forth negotiations in pursuit of the concerned parties’ self and national interests before going through lengthy deliberations for ratification by the Senate,” he pointed out.
Edited by KGA
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