Duterte extends suspension of VFA abrogation by another 6 months

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte is holding off for six more months the abrogation of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said on Monday.

In a video announcement, Locsin said the President decided to extend the suspension to further study the move “while both sides address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement.”

The decision came after Philippine and US officials submitted to Duterte an “improved” version of the VFA, which Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said officials had worked on over the past few months.

RELATED: US ‘hopeful’ VFA to be extended given decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty – envoy

The President terminated the agreement in February 2020. The termination process, however, was suspended in June last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging threats in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippine government again held off the suspension in November 2020.

The VFA provides the legal framework for the presence of American troops in the Philippines as they conduct joint military exercises.

READ: EXPLAINER: The Visiting Forces Agreement