Oct. 20, 2014
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III believes there is no reason to abolish the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
He said the fault of one is not the fault of the rest, referring to the case of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton who is the suspect in the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City last October 11.
US Ambassador Philip Goldberg agreed with Aquino that there is no need to abolish the VFA.
The two are in Leyte for the 70th Anniversary of the Leyte Landing.
Pemberton participated in the US-Philippines military exercises, which is part of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two nations.
The question on the relevance of the VFA has become a hot topic once again following the death of Laude.
Some pundits said the VFA has not helped the country achieve any strategic defense posture.
Yesterday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said: “Notice that the VFA is a big part of the country’s overall defense strategy in line with the Mutual Defense Treaty. We have to look at the bigger picture.”
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an international law expert, has called the VFA a failure.
She said that even after 10 years, the AFP has “not modernized sufficiently to keep up with our Asian neighbors, and the terrorist groups are still active.”
Coloma said, however, that the government will ensure that justice is served in the case of Laude.
“The US and the Philippines are one in saying that we will both help each other in achieving justice. We will ensure that the rule of law will be followed,” Coloma said in Filipino.