MANILA -- It's no longer a visit if you stay all year, Senator Francis Escudero said Tuesday as he supported a call to renegotiate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
“In so far as I am personally concerned I would rather focus on criminal jurisdiction. Two things. Criminal jurisdiction and number two, saan ka nakakita ng bisita na 365 days nandito? Hindi na bisita ang tawag doon.”
The senator added the United States should either rename the agreement or comply with what visiting means.
US forces are currently in the country for an Amphibious Landing Exercise, or Phiblex, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. There is a virtually permanent presence of US soldiers in Mindanao, but under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.
Escudero said the issue of jurisdiction over US soldiers who break Philippine laws should also be subject to renegotiation.
US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was accused of raping a Filipina, was held at the US Embassy in Manila until he was acquitted in 2009.
The issue of the custody and Smith's acquittal sparked protests against the VFA and calls to terminate the agreement. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)