The Philippines said on Monday that it is suspending the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States for another six months.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin announced in a video message the decision made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The president conveyed to us his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the VFA by another six months while he studies and both sides further address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement,” Locsin said.
This is the third time that the Philippines suspended the termination order. The second suspension was supposed to expire in August this year.
Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA in January 2020 after the United States canceled the entry visa of his longtime aide Senator Ronald dela Rosa, over Dela Rosa’s role in the war on drugs during his tenure as the Philippine National Police chief.
The notice of termination paved the way for both sides to “review the provisions” in the pact deemed “problematic” to the Philippines.
“The pact was not renegotiated but clarified in detail some VFA provisions that are problematic to the Philippines so both sides can implement it more effectively in the future,” a diplomatic source told Xinhua earlier.
Manila and Washington signed in 1998 the VFA that governs the conduct of U.S. military personnel who come to the Philippines to participate in approved training and other activities.
The Philippine Senate ratified the agreement in 1999, seven years after the closure of the last U.S. base on the Philippine territory.