(Eagle News)–The timing and reasons for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement are “way off the mark,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said.
In a statement, Lacson said that while “we will survive,” 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.”
“Also affected by the VFA’s abrogation is the maintenance and repairs of military hardware, mostly air assets provided by the US under the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) modernization program,” he said.
He said that while “exploring other options like inking similar defense treaties with other nations as posited by the AFP Chief of Staff is fine,” the reality is, “it doesn’t happen overnight.”
He said 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.”
“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,” he said.
“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.
The termination of the VFA, which governs the conduct of American soldiers on Philippine soil as they hold military exercises with their counterparts, took place after President Rodrigo Duterte slammed the US for cancelling Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa.
Dela Rosa had said he believes the cancellation was because of his role in the drug war as former national police chief.
The US has repeatedly criticized the campaign.
The Palace said this week Duterte was not open to other military alliances, saying he wanted the country to stand on its own.