THE Philippines is holding off for six months the termination of its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
The agreement, which governs the presence of American soldiers in the country, was terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte early this year.
The president, however, ordered the suspension of the agreement this week “in light of political and other developments in the region.”
Duterte ordered the abrogation of the VFA after the United States revoked the visa of former police chief now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, the president’s close friend.
Under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the Philippines and the United States commit to come to each other’s aid in case of an armed attack by a foreign aggressor.
Last year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed his government’s pledge to come to the aid of the Philippines amid growing concern over the aggressive activities of China in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the Philippines’ Department of National Defense said it “is ready to continue working closely with our US counterparts to find solutions to common concerns such as the ongoing pandemic that has greatly affected both our countries.”
“In times of crises and global uncertainty, it is our belief that nations are only made stronger if we work together and focus our efforts on tackling the various challenges that confront us all,” it added.