United States government officials and the usual critics of President Rody Duterte, who seem to conspire with each other, try to paint the decision of Rody to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as a knee-jerk reaction to the visa cancellation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, which is a certified propaganda.
Since the start of his term, Rody has given notice that he wanted the deal ended due to the continued interference of the superpower on domestic affairs and abuse of the VFA provisions.
In January 2017, for instance, Rody indicated his intention to junk the pact after receiving reports that the Americans were building arms depots in three provinces, which is not provided under the VFA.
US troops had unloaded weapons in Pampanga, Palawan and Cagayan de Oro, which Rody said may even include nuclear armaments.
“I am serving notice to the Armed Forces of the United States: Do not do it. I will not allow it. First of all, there is a provision under the VFA that there shall be no permanent facilities,” Rody noted.
“A depot by any other name is a depot. It’s a permanent structure to house arms. And I do not even know if there is a nuclear tip now that they are unloading because it’s not allowed by the treaty.
You do that and I will consider a review and maybe ultimately abrogate,” he expounded.
The President repeated his desire to end the agreement within six months after the US withheld assistance to the Philippine National Police and the Millennium Challenge Corp. aid package worth $434 million due to criticisms on the war on drugs.
“Why don’t you just leave and if you think that there is extrajudicial killing here — it’s a prevalent one, it’s a virulent practice, you know. So why are you here?” he asked.
The President said he always has America’s political and economic rivals who he considers “friends.”
“We will not go hungry without the American aid. We are not that desperate. We can always get it from China and Russia. We can always borrow from China and Russia,” Rody pointed out.
An arms deal intended for the Philippine National Police was canceled due to worries regarding the methods in fighting the illegal drugs trade.
Of course, the last straw was the discourtesy to De la Rosa and the demand of the Democrat senators to unconditionally free suspected drug trafficker Sen. Leila de Lima and the ban on Philippine officials who were supposedly responsible for her detention.
Presidential spokesman Sal Panelo said the move was studied and “was 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.”
The termination will take effect 180 days later and will not need US concurrence that had resulted to US security officials to start panicking.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, for instance, said Manila’s withdrawal from the VFA “would be a move in the wrong direction.”
US President Donald Trump said he doesn’t mind that the VFA ends since it will save the US government money.
Rody and Trump are on the same wavelength in that the resources of a nation are better used for the welfare of its citizens and not in meddling in another country’s affairs.