Palace says ‘no alliance shifting’ in scrapping of VFA
MANILA, Philippines—The move by President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate a key military pact with the United States is not meant to open the Philippines to defense alliances with other countries.
Duterte has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to formally sent to the US government the notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a move seen by his critics as an act that attests his pivot to China.
But his spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo denied that the move will steer the country to the hold of other foreign governments.
“Hindi shifting alliance. Tinatanggal natin iyong alliances natin. On our own na nga eh, sarili na nga eh,” Panelo said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
(It’s not about shifting alliance. We are removing our alliances with other countries. We’re on our own, own ourselves.)
The Palace official also declared that Duterte’s decision will remain “unchanged” until the last day of his term.
“Kalimutan ninyo na iyon (Forget about it). His position will be unchanged until the last day of his term,” Panelo said.
Since taking power in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly alluded to severing ties with the U.S. while pursuing closer ties with the country’s non-traditional allies Russia and China.
Duterte ordered the termination of the military pact after the U.S. canceled the visa of his longtime ally Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who has also led the government’s bloody war on drugs when he led the Philippine National Police.
The VFA, signed in 1998, provided the legal framework to U.S. troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
Edited by MUF
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