PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace
Robie de Guzman • January 24, 2020 • 1079
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.
Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.
“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.
In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.
Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.
“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.
“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”
The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.
The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)
MANILA, Philippines — The country is not yet ready to fully reopen its economy, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Chief Executive said the government is doing the process gradually, otherwise the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections would spike that could lead to a bigger problem.
He said he cannot follow the example of other countries because the Philippines does not have as much resources if the situation gets worse.
“Tayong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo. Hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (As a poor country, we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor. We cannot afford to gamble),” the President said during his public address on Tuesday evening (July 7).
President Duterte cited situations in the United States and Brazil where despite being powerful and wealthy, are not spared from the impact of the pandemic.
“Although they opened their economy for money to come into the government coffers, there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse — in the totality of the number,” he added.
Meanwhile, the President expressed doubts that the country has entered the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.
“Now we do not even know if the number of 34, 178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he argued.
He urged Filipinos to obey strict health protocols and have more patience as the government works to combat the pandemic.
“Mga kababayan ko, ako mismo gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayoko nang magpapigil. Kung gusto ko nga makipag-away na ako. Ang problema iyon ang gusto ko, pero ang gusto ko ay hindi makakabuti sa ating lahat,” he said.
(My fellow countrymen, I personally I want to go out. I don’t want to be barred from doing so. I am even ready to fight over this. The problem is, what I want is not good for everyone.)
“We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (Let’s do it gradually), because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo (We will seriously struggle),” he said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)
If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).
The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.
Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte government’s economic development and infrastructure Cabinet clusters are set to present the administration’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the coronavirus-induced headwinds this year at the first pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum to be held this week.
The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the forum titled, “Regaining Momentum, Accelerating Recovery in a Post COVID-19 World,” will be held virtually on July 8.
Hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the forum will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the Radio Television Malacañang, and other government agencies.
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said this year’s pre-SONA forum will be different as the audience will be “purely virtual,” due to limitations on mass gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We do hope that our citizens will be able to tune in as the country’s top decision makers discuss our path to a quick and strong recovery from this crisis,” he said.
In the forum, the DOF said that top economic and infrastructure officials are also expected to report on the state of the Philippine economy, as well as the government’s ongoing efforts to leverage on its strong fundamentals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar will present performance updates and priority plans, respectively, on the economic and infrastructure fronts.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will speak on the Philippine Economic Recovery Program.
“The audience can expect Secretary Dominguez to delve deeper into the challenges we’re facing right now, the accomplishments in the previous year that we can build on, and the legislative proposals that the economic team submitted for Congress to consider,” Lambino said.
Meanwhile, updates on the monetary, external, and financial sectors will be discussed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.
Pre-SONA forums are held annually to discuss in greater detail the achievements of the government in the previous year and the priorities of the Cabinet cluster heads in the run-up to the President’s SONA on July 27.
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