Military agreement with other countries may be considered Guevarra

13-Feb-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

With the termination of the military agreement with the United States, the Philippines may consider entering into Visiting Forces Agreement with other countries, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a message to reporters Wednesday, Guevarra said during the meeting of the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces, “it was mentioned… that we may consider having similar VFAs with other countries to continue the training of our military personnel.”

Asked if China is being considered as a potential partner for a military agreement, Guevarra said: “More like Australia.”

The Status of Visiting Forces Agreement with Australia was signed in 2007 and ratified in 2012.

Commission on Visiting Forces had ‘differing views’ on VFA termination

Guevarra, a member of the PCVF, was tasked by Malacanang with reviewing the potential impact of scrapping the VFA with the United States, which sets guidelines on the jurisdiction of American troops in Philippine territory and vice versa.

The Justice chief refused to divulge the recommendation of the PCVF after its risk assessment of the termination of the military pact with the US, but he said that members of the PCVF had “differing views.”

He said that the commission yielded to “the president’s sound judgment.”

“Whether we supported the president’s position or recommended another option is now water under the bridge. But one thing is clear; the president had everything he needed to know before he made up his mind to terminate the VFA,” Guevarra added.

The Philippines sent the notice of termination of the agreement to the US on Tuesday, a move that US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said is a step towards “the wrong direction.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. told senators at a hearing last week that without the VFA and the EDCA, the Mutual Defense Treaty “may be compared to a deflated balloon.”

“For all practical purposes, it becomes an extra large rubber for our nationfar more elastic than it can ever need for its purpose and more suitable as a shower cap than a prophylactic against foreign aggression,” Locsin said then.

Guevarra said the “termination of the VFA will make the [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] practically useless and the [Mutual Defense Treaty] a hollow agreement.”

He, however, is optimistic that the Philippines can weather the effects of the scrapped military pact with the US.

“We survived the historic termination of the RP-US military bases agreement; there’s no reason why we shall not survive the termination of a mere visiting forces agreement.”


Category: Philippines

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