VFA stays, says Romualdez

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FROM the looks of it, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippine government and the United States would remain, says Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez.

The statement was issued by the envoy following a US government statement which re-affirmed its commitment to sustain its help to the Philippines, particularly on the aspect of the Philippine military modernization program.

“Every year, pinag-uusapan ang VFA, iyong Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). Ang interpretation namin sa sinabi ni Presidente ay dahil imo-modernize ang ating Armed Forces,” Romualdez said during the Laging Handa briefing.

“Iyong listahan ng Pentagon [ng kailangan natin], ipinadala na kay [Defense] Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Iyong mga hiningi natin, mukhang kumpleto naman na…iyong kailangan natin na hardware, whatever we need from the US. Kapag nakita na iyon ng Presidente iyong listahan, it will probably satisfy the President’s concern in modernizing of our Armed Forces,” he added.

The VFA allows American forces to hold joint military exercises, counterintelligence training, and engage in humanitarian aid missions with their Filipino counterparts but prohibits US troops from engaging in combat operations.

The VFA is covered under the MDT, which traces back to 1952. The MDT provides that either country would come to help the other in the event of an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines or the US.

To prove his point, Romualdez said that the country would soon be getting 10 helicopters from the US.

“Mahaba iyong listahan na ibinigay kay Secretary Lorenzana on our modernation program. Lahat ng gusto natin, mga kailangan, medyo natupad na,” Romualdez added.

The Philippines and the United States will be marking the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries this year and the 60th anniversary of the MDT.

“Matagal na itong relasyon natin sa Amerika, and I am confident na maski ano’ng mangyari, we have an important relationship with America and we will continue to have good relations that is mutually beneficial,” Romualdez said.

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