By APD writer Melo M. Acuña
MANILA, Feb. 8 (APD) – President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to transmit the country’s formal notification to the United States (US) about the termination of the over two decades existence of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Malacanang said the President Duterte’s order took place a day after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a Senate hearing the revocation of the VFA may have a “negative” impact on the Philippines.
Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said President Duterte has instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to officially inform Secretary Locsin to send the notice of termination to the US government.
The agreement was signed by the Philippines and the United States last February 10, 1998, the VFA is an agreement that mentions how American personnel should be treated while in the Philippines.
The agreement, described lopsided by progressive groups, exempts American troops from passport and visa regulations and allows them to use their licenses and permits while in the Philippines.
America retains jurisdictions over their personnel accused of violating Philippine criminal laws unless the offenses are punishable in the host country.
The state-run Philippine News Agency said President Duterte’s termination of the VFA was in retaliation for US senators’ interference in the case of opposition lawmaker Leila de Lima who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in suburban Quezon City for her alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Secretary Panelo said President Duterte is scheduled to have a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump.
Earlier, Secretary Panelo was quoted saying the VFA termination has been studied and a tactical decision.
Spokesman Panelo said President Duterte had no other way but scrap the VFA because of the “brazen interference” and “disrespect” of the US Senate for the Philippines’ judicial process and system.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)
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