DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday, February 13, that military training exercises between the troops of the Philippines and the United States will proceed as scheduled within the 180 days pending the final termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said in a statement.
“However, our American counterparts may opt to discontinue the scheduled exercises before the 180 days are up. Once the termination is final, we will cease to have exercises with them,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said a notice of termination was served to the US Embassy in Manila on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA after the US cancelled the US visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, the former chief PNP and the principal implementor of the government’s drug war.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte has already made up his mind and decided that he will no longer entertain any initiative from the US to salvage the agreement.
He said Duterte will also no longer accept any invitation of the US government.
US President Donald Trump, however, merely shrugged off the termination notice, saying his government would save a lot of money if the agreement is scrapped.
Earlier, AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr. said 300 activities have been lined up for 2020, including Balikatan, Sikap, Sama-sama and Kamandag exercises. (SunStar Philippines)