Esperon: NSC to study crafting of VFA with China
National security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is taking “as an order” the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he was open to the Philippines conducting joint military exercises with China.
“You know, when the President gives a pronouncement, we take that as an order from him,” Esperon told reporters in a Palace briefing on Thursday.
Esperon said the National Security Council (NSC) would study the crafting of a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with China to implement Duterte’s “desire.”
“Together with the Department of National Defense and other agencies in the security cluster, we will study that because if that is the desire of the President, then we will do it,” he said.
Aside from the VFA, a treaty might be required to implement the joint exercise.
“We now have to look at the requirements for us to be able to do that,” he said.
The security official said he would seek “clarification” from Duterte during the Cabinet meeting on May 8.
Esperon pointed out that Sulu, where the President would want the joint exercises to happen, is part of the country’s internal waters.
“Sulu Sea is internal waters so they cannot just come in,” he said.
After his visit on Chinese warships at a port in Davao City, Duterte said he was open to the Philippines conducting joint military exercises with China in the Sulu Sea. /atm/rga
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