MANILA, Philippines (Associated Press)-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the termination of a key defense agreement he reached with the United States, which allowed large-scale military operations between the United States and the Philippine military. Combat maneuvers.
Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana announced Duterte’s decision at a joint meeting with visiting US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Manila on Friday.
Another Philippine official earlier told the Associated Press that Foreign Secretary Teodoro Losin will submit a document to Austin at a separate meeting later on Friday concerning Duterte’s decision to retain the “Interview Force Agreement.
“The President decides to recall or withdraw the VFA’s termination letter,” Lorenzana said. “We are back on track.”
Austin welcomed Duterte’s decision, which he said would help strengthen the defense relationship between long-term allies.
Duterte notified the U.S. government in February 2020 that the Philippines intends to abolish the 1998 agreement, which allowed a large number of U.S. troops to enter into joint combat training with the Philippine military, and established legal provisions for their temporary stay.
The exercises involved thousands of US and Philippine military personnel conducting land, sea, and air exercises. These exercises usually included live-fire exercises during the pre-pandemic period, and raised concerns in China when Beijing claimed to be on the periphery of its own waters.
The termination of the agreement will take effect after 180 days, but Duterte has repeatedly delayed the validity of his decision.
The US military presence in the region is seen as a check and balance against China. Although the 2016 international arbitration ruling made its historical basis invalid, China still actively advocates sovereignty over the disputed vast area of the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the other three governments have been stuck in territorial stalemate for decades.