Let bygones be bygones: DFA cancels the cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, on Duterte’s orders

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr

It’s official: the Visiting Forces Agreement is on again.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr made the announcement via a video posted on the DFA Twitter account (@dfaphl) on Friday, July 30.

This comes a few hours after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the retraction of the termination following a meeting with United States Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who is in the country for an official visit.

The DFA secretary announced that the retraction had been made official. “Upon the instructions of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, today I handed over to the United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III the diplomatic note recalling the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” said Locsin.

The VFA is a mutual defense treaty signed by the US and the Philippines after World War II. Under the VFA, the US has sent military aid to the Philippines to battle extremist groups. Duterte ordered the abrogation of the agreement in 2020, following a public spat with the US when news came out in January 2020 that the visa of Sen Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa had been canceled.

Duterte ordered the suspension of that abrogation in November 2020, following tensions with China, and extended the suspension another six months beginning in June this year.

Read: Duterte ends #SONA2021 with a pee joke, to the delight of Congress

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