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Philippines notifies US of Visiting Forces Agreement’s termination

Manila, Feb 11 (IANS) The Philippines has officially notified the US about the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries, a top diplomat said on Tuesday.

“The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the US has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a diplomatic courtesy there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed Manila’s move to end the military agreement that allows the US forces to conduct large-scale joint military exercises in the Philippines, Xinhua news agency reported.

Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Monday night to tell Locsin to send the notice of termination to the US government.

The termination process will begin “180 days from the receipt of the notice of the termination”.

“From what I read from the agreement there is no need for the (reply of the US government). There’s no response needed,” Panelo said, adding Duterte can terminate the VFA himself.

“As the president said, it’s about time we rely on our own resources. We need to strengthen our own capability as a country relative to the defense of our land,” Panelo said.

Duterte decided to scrap the VFA after the US cancelled the American visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, the President’s longtime aide.

Moreover, Duterte was offended by calls of some US senators to free detained Senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained over drug-related charges since February 2017.

The Philippines and the US signed in 1998 a VFA, allowing joint military operations. The Philippine senate ratified the agreement in 1999, seven years after the closure of the last US base on Philippine territory.

–IANS

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