Malacañang does not expect the United States to take lightly the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, thus the statement by US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper that the withdrawal is “a move in the wrong direction” did not come as a surprise.
“We expect no less for such a reaction from the US government following its receipt of the notice of termination of the VFA,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“Such a commentary is expected given that the VFA favors the US and its abrogation affects its global strategic defensive positioning. From our point of view however, the decision to terminate the VFA is a move in the right direction that should have been done a long time ago,” Panelo added.
Panelo said it’s about time the Philippines strengthens its defense capabilities without relying too much on other countries.
“Reliance on another country for our own defenses against the enemies of the state will ultimately weaken and stagnate our defense mechanisms. We must stand on our own and put a stop to being a parasite to another country in protecting our independence and sovereignty,” Panelo said.
“Our studied action is consistent and pursuant to our chartering an independent foreign policy, with our foreign relations anchored solely on national interest and the general welfare of our people.”
“As the President says, ‘We are friends to all, enemies to none.’ Should any country however threaten our territorial integrity and assault our sovereignty, we will rise by our own resources and valiantly defend our motherland the way our forefathers did during their time,” said Panelo.