United States President Donald Trump has said on February 12 that he does not mind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of ending a decades-long major military agreement. Philippine President has told the country's Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr to send a formal notice to the US for the termination of Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Trump's unwavering response to Duterte's decision remained in contrast with his defence secretary who viewed the same move with dismay. According to international reports, the US President told reporters at the White House when he was asked about the ending of an agreement signed way back in 1999, Trump even said that “it will save a lot of money”.
“I don’t really mind if they would like to do that, it will save a lot of money,” Trump told reporters at the White House. He further added, “My views are different from others.”
Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo reportedly said in a regular briefing on February 11 while quoting the Philippine President that it was about time the country becomes self-dependent in terms of defence and 'not rely on any other country'. Locsin Jr said in a tweet said that notice of termination of the security agreement has been received by the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Manila.
The VFA was signed in 1999 between two countries and allowed the legal status of thousands of American troops who took rounds in the country for their military exercises along with providing humanitarian assistance. While Philippine President hopes to terminate the accord after more than two decades, the Mutual Defence Treaty and an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) still remain intact.
According to international reports, in a Senate hearing last week, the Philippine foreign secretary had warned that ending the VFA would result in undermining of country's security and it might foster aggression in the disputed South China Sea. The presence of US troops in the waterway has been crucial for the country to dominate the Chinese forces which claim the entire sea, virtually.
Therefore, Locsin had suggested amendments to the agreement in order to fix the concerned issues instead of fully terminating the deal. Meanwhile, the Philippine defence and military officials have not immediately issued any reaction to the orders by Manila. The termination of VFA could reportedly come into action after 180 days after the US government receives the notice. However, both countries still have the option to keep the pact in the waiting period.