Ambassador Romualdez and ex-Senator Trillanes react to Duterte’s push to eliminate the Visiting Forces Agreement

NEW YORK — Philippine ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez assured Filipino-Americans at a general assembly held at the Philippine Consulate in New York over the weekend that the Philippine-U.S. relations remain strong.

“The close relationship between our country and Filipinos and Americans has been translated into comprehensive and robust security and economic ties,” Romualdez said.

These were his remarks, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to end the Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement, or VFA –  a bilateral agreement signed in 1999 that allowed us military troops entry into the Philippines, as well as military vessels and aircraft, and to also provide counter-terrorism training to Philippine forces.

“We’ve really benefitted a lot from the VFA, and I think, my personal view is that obviously we will continue… one of those that are advocating we continue with it especially with the program that is modernizing our armed forces.”

Duterte’s threat to cancel the VFA came after former philippine national police chief – and now Senator Bato de la Rosa’s u-s visa was cancelled by us officials who are concerned over Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

But opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, who was in New York over the weekend — said there is a deeper reason for Duterte’s threat to eliminate the VFA.

Cancelling the VFA is not a good idea for the Philippines, said the senator.

“The biggest casualty here would be the armed forces of the Philippines, and the national security situation of the country, directly you would have deprived the afp access to modern technology, or the latest trends of modern warfare, you would deprive them of intelligence information…

Most importantly, the senator said the Philippines would lose humanitarian and disaster relief assistance from the U.S.

Malacanang said the Philippine senate is welcome to make its recommendations on the VFA – but the president is intent on ending it.

The Palace added that the Philippines may send a notice of termination to the US without the approval of the Senate.

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