PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty now reduced to mere paper treaty after VFA termination – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020   •   497

MANILA, Philippines – The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States “will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty” with the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington,” Lacson said in a statement.

“What is certain is that the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” he added.

Lacson made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed and sent a notice formally scrapping the VFA to the United States.

The MDT was signed by Washington and Manila in 1951 where both parties agreed to support each other in case of an armed attack.

The VFA, on the other hand, 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.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing that accounts for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson said.

“That may not include other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea, as well as humanitarian aid in times of disasters, epidemics and other crises,” he added.

Lacson and other senators earlier filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plan to scrap the VFA while the Senate reviews it.

Duterte in January threatened to terminate the deal following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

U.S. withdrawal from WHO undermines global anti-pandemic cooperation efforts: officials

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The international community has criticized the U.S. decision to quit the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the move has posed negative influences on its own anti-pandemic efforts and also global cooperation.

The United States on Tuesday officially submitted its notification of withdrawal from the WHO to the UN secretary-general, following an announcement made in May. The move came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas over the past week.

The administration’s move to formally withdraw from WHO is short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous, CEO of the United Nations Foundation Elizabeth Cousens said in a statement.

She said the WHO is the only body able to lead and coordinate the global response to COVID-19 and terminating the relationship undermines the global effort to beat this virus.

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said the “U.S. withdrawal from the WHO is a setback for international cooperation,” and called for global coordination which is necessary for fighting the pandemic.

“The U.S. withdrawal from WHO is a mistake. It is the public health authority for the world’s poorest and many will now see the U.S. as less reliable, diminishing its influence,” tweeted Tom Tugendhat, a UK Conservative Member of Parliament and also chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza made comments saying that the U.S. withdrawal decision is “serious and wrong”.

With regard to the U.S. move of pulling out from international organizations and treaties, Pascal Boniface, Founder and Director of French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), said its unilateralism inclination sabotages the current international mechanism.

“The move of withdrawing from international organizations has become a customary gimmick by the U.S. government. The U.S. pulled out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Paris Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” he said.

“We can say that the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO has reflected the overall attitude of the government, which broke the current international mechanism and multilateralism. It is to pursue unilateralism,” he added. (Reuters)

U.S. envoy Biegun meets Seoul’s top security adviser to discuss North Korea

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

United States Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun held a meeting with South Korea’s top security adviser on Thursday (July 9) before heading off to Japan in a trip overshadowed by stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea.

According to Seoul’s presidential office, Biegun met with Suh Hoon, a former spy chief, and discussed the North’s recent movement and ways to foster peace on the Korean peninsula. Suh said he “highly appreciated” the U.S. envoy’s efforts to resume talks with North Korea.

North Korea has said it has no intention of sitting down again with the United States, though U.S. President Donald Trump said this week he would be open to another summit with leader Kim Jong Un. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

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)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

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